Guam governor lifts another COVID restriction

For an island where people socialize frequently, the news is good. Guam gets something – if not everything – towards a normalizing of social life, and a removal of GovGuam COVID vaccination requirements and tests.

Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero announced March 11, that “Effective immediately, there no longer will be a limit on outdoor social gathering numbers – and other than healthcare workers, our government will no longer mandate proof of employee vaccination and weekly testing requirements.”

Indicating that lifting of restrictions may be a continuous step process, Leon Guerrero said, “The reality is that we continue to report hundreds of cases. Compared to prior surges, the difference today is our COVID admissions are manageable, and vaccines, boosters, and treatments are available. Although, like the virus, our safety measures can’t go away overnight.”

Calling on the community to continue safeguards, she said, “If we sustain our vigilance, there will come an appropriate time when there are no limits on indoor social gatherings, and face masks and other measures are no longer mandatory.”


USCIS may increase NMI contract workers, interim rule for minimum wage

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, together with the U.S. Department of Labor is looking at “increasing the total number of noncitizens who may receive an H-2B nonimmigrant visa by authorizing the issuance of no more than 20,000 additional visas” during fiscal 2022 for positions with start dates on or before March 31, to “those businesses that are suffering irreparable harm or will suffer impending irreparable harm, as attested by the employer on a new attestation form, according to an entry in the Federal Register.

The amendments to Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations in this rule are effective from Jan. 28 this year through Jan. 28, 2025. The amendments to Title 20 of the Code of Federal Regulations are effective from Jan. 28 through Sept. 30, 2025.

For a link to the documents and information on how to submit testimony, go to:

Also available is the interim rule for the federal minimum wage. According to the federal register, the $15 figure may rise in 2023. Aside from the U.S. mainland, the ruling covers “Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Johnston Island, Wake Island, and the outer Continental Shelf.” See the entry here:


United announces Ukraine fundraising effort

United Airlines announced May 7 (May 8 CHamoru Standard Time) a fundraising effort for MileagePlus members, who “can donate cash or miles to the airline’s signature relief partners – Airlink, Americares, American Red Cross and World Central Kitchen  – by visiting United will match the first five million donated miles – the equivalent of hundreds of connecting flights to places like Poland, Hungary and Romania – and $100,000 as well as award bonus miles to anyone who gives $50 or more.”

The airline said its “relief partners are already on the ground in the countries supporting Ukraine and are assisting in a number of different ways including:

  • AirlinkUsing the power of aviation to deliver critical aid – medical, WASH, shelter, and emergency response and medical teams for 20+ humanitarian organizations to help refugees;
  • AmericaresMobilizing large-scale shipments of medicine and relief supplies and prepared to deploy an emergency medical team to provide essential health services for refugees fleeing Ukraine;
  • World Central KitchenWorking with local restaurants, caterers, and food trucks in the region to provide hot nourishing meals at border crossings, shelters and other refugee communities across Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Moldava, Romania and Slovakia;
  • American Red Cross: Supporting the global Red Cross network providing humanitarian relief to those affected by the Ukraine crisis.

“In addition to fundraising efforts, United has paused Russian airspace transit, suspended interline agreements with Russian carriers and until further notice, credit card payments from Russia will no longer be accepted on the United app or,” the airline said.


Visitors welcome, plus travel updates

Japan market: Nine “ambassadors” were selected through the Guam Visitors Bureau’s #HereWeGuam contest in Japan from more than 500 participants. Four were available to travel to Guam for a fam tour from Feb. 21 to March 5. The #HereWeGuam ambassadors include NHK Radio DJ Akiko Tomita, Miss Universe Japan Personal Trainer Takuya Mizukami, Miss University Aichi 2020 Kanna, and Sports Influencer Lucas. The rest of the “ambassadors” are due to visit Guam later this year, according to GVB. From March 1, quarantine in Japan was reduced to three days for residents, business travelers, and foreign students.


Taiwan travel: As of March 7, non-Taiwanese citizens may enter Taiwan for business activities such as “business visits, investment, fulfillment of contractual obligations, and employment.” applicants should apply for a special entry permit at an R.O.C. overseas representative office.


Hawaii will lift the statewide indoor mask requirement when the current emergency proclamation related to COVID-19 expires at 11:59 p.m., Mar. 25, according to the Office of the Governor in a March 8 release.


The Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands reported 24% average occupancy rate among its 12 member hotels for February, compared to a 5% average occupancy in February 2021. A total of 9,767 of 41,093 available room nights sold during February, compared to 1,853 of 34,849 available rooms in February 2021. Average room rates were $136.60 compared to $145.00 last February. “The first phase of the Tourism Resumption Investment Plan Korea program ended in January, and coupled with the omicron surge, the [Northern] Marianas experienced a dip in demand which forced air carriers to scale back some flights,” Ivan Quichocho, vice president with Tan Holdings and chairman of HANMI, said. “The TRIP program is slated to transition to incentive-based flights in the months of March to May, provided it can pass all applicable government reviews and approvals,” he said.


Editor’s Note: The Guam Hotel & Restaurant Association’s latest occupancy figures are from 2020 and are available on the association’s website. The Guam Visitors Bureau releases arrival numbers, which for January totaled 8,896; 32% of visitors in January were military arrivals.  The Marianas Visitors Authority reported 2,390 visitors for December and 2,052 visitors in January.


Core Tech JV completes hangars at Andersen Airforce Base

A ribbon cutting was held March 4 for the completion of two hangars at Andersen Air Force Base, according to a release from the public affairs office for the 36th Wing at Andersen.

The two hangers – a 75,000 square foot, $134.3 million General Purpose Maintenance Hangar, known as Hangar five and a $128 million Aircraft Fuel Systems Maintenance Hangar of the same size, known as Hangar two. The hangars were built to withstand extreme weather conditions, and both contracts were awarded to a joint venture of Core Tech-AMEC-SKEC LLC, according to Journal files.


In related news, the U.S. Department of Defense announced March 8 the closure of the leaking Red Hill Bulk Storage Facility in Oahu and its intent to “redistribute fuel in accordance with INDOPACOM plans for strategic fuel storage in the Pacific region.”

Andersen Air Force Base has long been a strategic location for refueling. A variety of companies – to include longtime contractors in Guam – have contributed to the ongoing effort to upgrade and restore fuel storage facilities at Andersen, as well as the upgrade of the fuel pipeline between Andersen Air Force Base and the Sasa Valley Fuel Farm.

The Journal welcomes news of completion of projects. Contact [email protected] to submit new on this and other topics.


Plus, HDR Engineering Inc. of Hawaii – which has a Guam office –was awarded March 10 a $40 million indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for architectural-engineering services for civil projects and other projects “under the cognizance of Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Pacific.” Work will be performed at various locations within the NAVFAC Pacific area of operations including, but not limited to Guam, 20%; Hawaii, 70%; and Australia,10%. The contract has a completion date of March 2027.  No task orders are being issued now. Future task orders will be primarily funded by military construction funds. The contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website with five proposals received and was awarded by NAVFAC Pacific.


More assistance on the way for Marianas residents, NMC re-credited

The Government of Guam will dispense gas cards for $300 to residents, based on the number of family members and income.

As with the $500 cards previously dispensed, the Northern Mariana Islands administration is looking at aid for all residents. Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres said at a news conference on May 11 that residents “should be expecting additional assistance.” That would not be gas vouchers, he said. “If I was to give out gas vouchers, what happens to those who don’t have vehicles? An amount of $500 was proposed by the NMI Senate. Torres said, “We’re hoping to give more.”

The Northern Mariana Islands College was re-credited for eight years, and part of its master plan is necessary construction following typhoon devastation on campus. NMC President Galvin Deleon Guerrero told the Journal at the news conference that the college was on track for its first construction project, which would be the student center. “We’re going to break ground this summer.” NMC is looking at building five or six buildings in the next five years, he said.

However, Deleon Guerrero said, “I would not be surprised if we see construction going on for two, three or four buildings at the same time.” Architectural and engineering design was about 60% completed, he said.

NMC is looking to add to its four-year degree programs, he said, potentially a bachelor’s of science in nursing, based on community need. “Our business degree is a really new degree. It’s got such demand.” The college was aiming to hire additional instructors he said.

English language programs are another aim, he said. “We’re also re-starting relationships throughout Asia – South Korea – that’s looking very promising.”

The Northern Marianas College Foundation – originally chartered in 1997 is re-establishing itself – first as a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Foundation members have undertaken fiduciary training and will aim to build the endowment fund. There have been no contributions to that for years, he said.


For your diary:

Women of Pohnpei will celebrate International Women’s Day in island of Guam on March 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Ypao Beach Park Main Stage in Tumon. The event will feature cultural dancing and a demonstration of making Pohnpei’s traditional cultural skirts. 

Ina Wellness Collective will hold the Ina Well Fest 2022 on June 25 at the Hyatt Regency Guam. The one day event will feature Rosie Acosta, yoga and meditation teacher:, and Calvine Corzone, yoga teacher at AloMoves:, plus vendors, including Guahan Sustainable Culture, Health City, Mantrasana Fitness Studio, Ignite Juice Bar, Atos Jiu-Jitsu Guam, Pulan Magic, Earthy + Herbs, Lasatherapy, Dr. Horinouchi Wellness Clinic, Numa’lo Refillery, 23 Fitness, Jaded & Cure, Tori Nori Esthetics and FloWater. Early Bird tickets are $111. For more information, contact Livia Marati at [email protected]. mbj