Bye bye Guam quarantine
As of May 1, visitors and residents alike will not have to quarantine – neither in a hotel, nor at home.
Each arrival will have to have a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before their arrival in Guam, download the COVID Alert app, and the Guam SARA Alert app, for monitoring and reporting COVID symptoms for 14 days.
For the quarantine requirement to disappear, Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero said in a March 15 press conference, Guam’s population must see 50% of its adult population aged 16 and over vaccinated, which equates to about 60, 500 people. “We will re-open our borders,” the governor said. “Our ultimate goal is to fully vaccinate 80% by July 21,” she said.
Part of the initiative is also to make sure hospitality workers are vaccinated, she said. In addition, Leon Guerrero said, “We stand ready to manage any potential spike.
While an influx of tourists is clearly not expected immediately, she said, “We are going to be marketing that our island is safe.”
Discussions have begun with consular offices to encourage visitors “probably Korea first off,” according to Ben Ferguson, general manager of Pacific Islands Club Guam and vice chairman of the Guam Visitors Bureau Recovery Task Force. Arthur San Agustin, director of the Department of Public Health and Social Services, said that there would be coordination to accept a PRC test from destinations.
The governor said while Joint Region Marianas has its own COVID protocols, they may choose to follow the guidelines for arrivals from May 1. Of Rear Adm. John Menoni’s decision, she said, “He may also follow what we are saying.”
SBA announces loan deferments to 2022 for all disaster loans including the EIDL; interest to accrue
The U.S. Small Business Administration announced March 12 extended deferment periods for all disaster loans, including the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, until 2022.
- All SBA disaster loans made in calendar year 2020, including COVID-19 EIDL, will have a first payment due date extended from 12 months to 24 months from the date of the note.
- All SBA disaster loans made in calendar year 2021, including COVID-19 EIDL, will have a first payment due date extended from 12 months to 18 months from the date of the note.
“Existing SBA disaster loans approved prior to 2020 in regular servicing status as of March 1, 2020, received an automatic deferment of principal and interest payments through Dec. 31, 2020. This initial deferment period was subsequently extended through March 31, 2021. An additional 12-month deferment of principal and interest payments will be automatically granted to these borrowers. Borrowers will resume their regular payment schedule with the payment immediately preceding March 31, 2022, unless the borrower voluntarily continues to make payments while on deferment. It is important to note that the interest will continue to accrue on the outstanding balance of the loan throughout the duration of the deferment,” the SBA said.
NMI House of Representatives to consider bills
The Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives of the 22nd NMI Legislature will consider bills introduced. Among them:
House Bill NO. 22-25: To provide relief to CNMI taxpayers affected by disasters by allowing relief from penalties and interest on unpaid taxes;
H.B. NO. 22-27: To amend 4 CMC §1407(b) to remove the 15-day grace period and to provide the Division of Customs with the authority to promulgate and establish application fees for low-risk importer applicants;
H.B. NO. 22-31: To authorize the Department of Public Lands to issue licenses and use permits and charge fees for the use of the public lands located within 150 feet of the high-water mark.
H.B. NO. 22-32: To amend the Litter Control Act to the prohibit the possession of glass containers while on public beaches;
H.B. NO. 22-34: To provide a tax credit for taxpayers who make donations of cash or food supplies to a qualified local food pantry, homeless shelter, or soup kitchen.
H.B. NO. 22-42: To amend 4 CMC §1943 to authorize developer infrastructure tax credits for appropriate Chamorro and Carolinian culture designs;
H.B. NO. 22-45: To authorize the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Department of Finance in consultation with Department of Public Works to enter into a loan agreement for a sum up to $16,800,000.00 for the construction and improvement of roads …;
H.B. NO. 22-46: To repeal and re-enact 4 CMC 1402 (g) to allocate 10 percent of the excise tax to the Solid Waste Management Revolving Fund.
In other news:
- The University of Guam mailed $2.27 million in federal grant aid to students the week of March 8. Eligible students enrolled during the Spring/Fañomnåkan (January–May) 2021 semester will receive between $436 to $873, based on their status at the university and Pell Grant eligibility. The disbursements are part of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II unde the CARES Act.
- The Guam Office of Public Accountability released March 12 the Government of Guam Solid Waste financial statements and reports for fiscal 2020. Due to the uncertainty surrounding the duration of the state of emergency caused by COVID-19, GSWA is unable to reasonablyestimate its ultimate financial impact, the OPA said. GovGuam allotted $34,000 to GSWA from the CARES ACT to fund certain employee hazard pay.
Receiver fees paid to Gershman, Brickner, and Bratton amounted to $318,000 in fiscal 2020 for a total of $22.1 million since 2008. Of the total, $3.8 million was paid by the general fund. For more details see www.opa.org.
- The CNMI Cannabis Commission announced March 14 the licensure of the first commercial licensee to Slider Marianas LLC on March 12. The issuance of the Production Class I commercial license allows for the legal planting, cultivation, growth, harvesting, drying and sale of cannabis to licensed wholesalers, processors, retailers, lounges, laboratories and/or research certificate holders in the Northern Mariana Islands, the commission said. Other licenses are due to be issued, according to the release.
- The crew of the merchant vessel Hoegh Brasilia rescued five men from a skiff March 12 and transported them to the vicinity of Houk Island in Chuuk where the U.S. Coast Guard Guam Cutter Myrtle Hazard escorted them back to Houk Island. mbj