Governor looking at easing hotel quarantine rules; return to home quarantine eyed

Passengers from the airport about to be transported to quarantine facility. (Viewer contributed file photo)

While island residents have done their part to keep the CAR Score under 5 in recent weeks, Adelup announced only a few eased restrictions this week, saying they’re taking a conservative approach to reopening.

One major one left unchanged? The incoming passenger quarantine rules. But Governor Lou Leon Guerrero says they’re considering options for that as well.

“We are talking about maybe looking at, still quarantining, but quarantining more at home. But, we have to have a very robust monitoring and tracking system for people who are quarantining at home,” Leon Guerrero said.

The governor says her team is looking at the possibility of going back to home quarantine, much like it was before we flipped into PCOR 1 in mid-August.

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Prior to the current lockdown, residents and visitors could get a negative COVID PCR test before they got to the island and would be allowed to home quarantine for 14 days.

In fact, the rules had relaxed so much, the island was pivoting towards a tourism return with a “5-day rule.” Adelup announced in July that those coming to Guam from so-called low-risk countries for less than 5 days can skip having a COVID-19 test and no quarantining will be required. At the time, those countries included Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the CNMI, and Palau.

But with the second surge in August, the governor shut it all down, going into mandatory quarantine for all incoming travelers no matter where they came from and whether they had a negative test or not.

Then at the end of September, GovGuam started allowing people to test out of government quarantine on Day 6 if they got back a negative result. Then they’d finish their remaining 14 days at home.

There have been court cases, judgments, and even arrests related to the GovGuam “voluntary” quarantine.

And while not committing to any definitive steps, the governor says they are considering the options for allowing people to go back to home quarantine.

“Yes – we are considering that. If we are going to do that (home quarantine) then we would require a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival,” Leon Guerrero said.

The CDC recently changed its quarantine rules as well for travellers.

Nonetheless, the governor says she and the island’s COVID leaders are worried about keeping track of the incoming passengers.

And with cases and deaths still surging state-side, she says she’s calculating all the risks.

“Most of our travelers are coming from those very raging places — Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington — you know the West Coast primarily. Some are coming from Texas also…and some from the midwest,” Leon Guerrero said.

As for an actual timeline to a change in quarantine, don’t hold your breath for anything before the new year.

Krystal Paco-San Agustin, the Governor’s press secretary, told PNC News: “We will likely consider changes to our quarantine policy after the holiday season. We’ve made so much progress in controlling our community spread these past few weeks, but we are mindful of the rising case counts in the mainland and the threat they pose to our local community.”

She went on to say that GovGuam has also gotten word that FEMA is inundated with the response in surging states, “so we are taking a cautious approach to reopening.”