On July 29, Guam’s administration called a news conference for that afternoon and announced that the island had reached (and had exceeded) its target of herd immunity of 80%, with 96,066 eligible adults vaccinated.

     Roland Miranda’s cartoon on our Commentary pages likens Guam’s progress to those figures as the Guam Olympics.

Unfortunately, the event was a marathon rather than a sprint, made arduous by the belief — voiced by the Governor — that really close enough would be good enough.

In fact, before the target date of Guam’s Liberation Day, a press conference was called to say that was not the case.

The announcement Guam would finally see restrictions lifted was made by Lt. Governor Joshua F. Tenorio at the vaccination clinic at the University of Guam, and was for the island’s small businesses welcome news, but palls against their challenges.

Some businesses have benefited during the pandemic and their hard work has similarly benefitted the island’s economy and their employees.

But for many who may have watched the news conference on Facebook, reaching the target is bitter-sweet.

One retailer in Guam told the Journal that “100% occupancy will not help me.”

And for those businesses that have stumbled and fallen before the finish line of 100% occupancy, the news of less restrictions comes too late.

Businesses face limitless challenges that are beyond their control — such as supply chain disruption, lack of employees and a marketplace that is unpredictable.

The end of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance will not come until September, and whether employees will return is uncertain. According to the story we carry on the Front Page, cooks are in short supply in Guam, and some have left the island or entered other professions. Other residents have also headed for the U.S. mainland, where some states offer more certain fulltime employment.

What will help businesses weather the storm may also remain out of reach. By September the increase in minimum wage will be upon the island’s workforce.

And the community has still to hear details about the GEDA Small Business Grant Program and the Bisnes Para I Taotao DOL program, or if the federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund will receive more funding.

While tourists are finally welcome in Guam, we must ensure that there is no backtracking when it comes to such a fragile industry.  mbj