Guam Department of Health hikes sanitary permit fees
The Department of Public Health and Social Services Division of Environmental Health filed the rules and regulations governing the issuance of Sanitary Permits, fees, and administrative penalty for approval with the Guam Legislature. The rules and regulations lapsed without a vote by the Senators, therefore, passed into law by default, according to the Guam Hotel & Restaurant Association.
Mary P. Rhodes, president of GHRA said on March 30 she is talking with DPHSS for an extension of the effective date, given the tough economic climate.
Click below to see the fees.
DoD budget plan includes explicit funding for Guam, defense strategy goes to Congress
In the U.S. Department of Defense fiscal 2023 budget, investments include for the
U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, “$6.1 billion for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, including military construction, defense of Guam, missile warning and tracking architecture, and Mission Partner Environment (MPE) framework for multinational information sharing, and the Pacific Multi-Domain Training and Experimentation Capability.”
The budget also includes a 4.6% pay increase for military and civilian personnel, funding for childcare and Housing and Subsistence inflation increases.
Readers can find the budget proposal here: https://www.defense.gov/cj
In the classified National Defense Strategy – transmitted to Congress March 28 in Washington, D.C., DoD said among its priorities are “deterring aggression, while being prepared to prevail in conflict when necessary, prioritizing the PRC challenge in the Indo-Pacific, then the Russia challenge in Europe.” DoD further said, “The department will remain capable of managing other persistent threats, including those from North Korea, Iran, and violent extremist organizations.”
An unclassified version is “forthcoming,” DoD said.
In other military news, the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Springfield arrived March 21 at its new home port of Naval Base Guam from Hawaii.
Guam can grow Korean market, committee chair said
The island of Guam is ranked ninth in most popular overseas destinations for Korea, according to Ho S. Eun, chairman, of Core Tech International Corp. and chairman of the Guam Visitors Bureau’s Korea Market Committee, who was the keynote speaker at the March 30 Guam Chamber of Commerce general membership meeting at the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa.
“We do definitely have room to grow in this market share,” he said.
While Guam is not the highest on Korea’s list, Eun said Korea makes up 45% of Guam’s visitor market. Because of COVID-19 and entry requirements for both Guam and Korea, the original estimate of 500,000 seats from Korea, before the Omicron variant hit the island, has been downgraded to 350,000. However, with a 70% occupancy factored into that, that will bring about 250,000 Koreans to Guam’s shores in 2022, he said.
Eun said GVB is estimating the majority of these arrivals will be younger people, without kids, perhaps on a honeymoon or vacation, due to the stringent restrictions on young, unvaccinated children in both Korea and Guam.
March and April are considered “warm-up” months in getting Korea tourists back to the island, with May and June being “recovery” months and then the bulk of the visitors coming in July and August during summer vacation.
Additionally, “We expect [Korea] to ease more restrictions” in May or June – at least that is the hope, Eun said.
COVID and mask mandate updates:
The requirement for masks in outdoor settings will be lifted 14 days after Guam is classified as “low” risk by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, according to Executive Order 2022-9, which Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero signed the evening of March 29. The island is presently classified as “high” risk. At the same time, restrictions to social gatherings will be rescinded; and social distancing regulations will be rescinded.
After a further 14 days of “low” risk level, the mask mandate will be completely lifted, but businesses may continue to enforce restrictions.
The EO also lifts the requirement for on-arrival quarantine and extends the health emergency declaration until May 3.
Speaking to media on March 30, Leon Guerrero said that lifting the Public Health Emergency would bring with it certain penalties, and that many states have kept their emergency status because of emergency SNAP allotments, for example. “I want to make it very clear that lifting restrictions is not the same as ending the public health emergency,” she said.
Guam may move to “medium” CDC risk level this week she said, with “low” level risk soon after. However, she said, “We are in a very fragile situation here.”
Leon Guerrero told the Journal that the effect of changing restrictions back and forth on tourism arrivals would be a factor. “We will consider that.” She said that the tourism markets had previously made their own decisions. “They also pushed back and made more restrictions.” The governor also emphasized that the team that considers restrictions is made of multiple government of Guam agencies and works closely with the Guam Chamber of Commerce and the business community. “We’re not making these decisions arbitrarily or capriciously,” she said.
As for short- and long-term planning, Leon Guerrero said, “What I see – in a month, two months, we will probably lift everything.” Guam would still maintain its capacity for continuous boosting, contact tracing and testing, she said, likely for the next two years.
As for lifting the public health emergency, the governor said she would wait to see what the World Health Organization, the CDE and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on the subject.
In related news, the 36th Guam Legislature’s Committee on Health, Land, Justice, and Culture will hold a public hearing on March 30 at 5:30 p.m. on Resolution No. 291-36 (COR) “relative to terminating the emergency health powers created by 10 GCA CH. 19, pursuant to 10 GCA §19405(c) in order to restore the civil rights of the people of Guam.”
Naval Base Guam lifted its mask mandate March 28. Andersen Air Force Base lifted its mask mandate March 5.
The Northern Mariana Islands lifted the indoor mask mandate March 27, as the NMI transitioned to the Centers for Disease Control Community Level Medium. “… people who are considered immunocompromised or at high risk for severe illness should talk to their healthcare provider about whether they need to wear a mask and take other precautions. Also, people who live with or have social contact with immunocompromised individuals should wear a mask when indoors with them,” the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. said in a release. Although travelers will still complete an online health form, from March 26 they will no longer be tested on arrival or on their 5th-day after arrival, the CHCC said.
Bank changes status
BankPacific Ltd. has taken the first steps to become a chartered bank – converting from a savings and loan institution, according to Philip J. Flores, president of the bank.
The bank received approval from the Guam Banking and Insurance Board and will now reach out to national banking institutions like the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Federal Reserve Bank for approval on its status.
Flores said the change of status will benefit consumers and cease the bank’s exposure to increased residential mortgage interest rates, although it does not change what the bank can do. “The new charter gives us no additional powers,” he said. It was occasioned by what Flores said was a surge in deposits due to “all that federal relief money,” which threatened the bank’s status.
“We’re not going to stop making loans. It will help us get involved in larger commercial loans,” he said.
As to Guam’s economic climate as it moves out of the pandemic, Flores said, “There’s going to be investment coming in.”
In related news, the board of directors of Marianas Finance Corp. – which is largely known for a variety of consumer loan products – declared a dividend March 23 of 15¢, according to a March 28 release. Flores is president and chairman of Marianas Finance Corp.
Repatriation flights set for the FSM; country set to open in August
Flights for returning residents to the Federated Micronesia will take place for Yap on April 6, for Kosrae on April 4 and 18, and for Chuuk on April 11 and 25 and for Pohnpei on April 16 and 23.
A flight from Fiji for essential personnel to return to Pohnpei will take place on April 6.
The FSM COVID-19 Task Force has recommended that the number of days of quarantine in Guam be reduced to five days, according to a March 25 release from the Office of the President, with a three-day restricted movement quarantine on arrival.
“It remains the intention of the FSM National Government to fully open the nation’s borders sometime in August,” the release said.
Drivers licenses available in NMI again
The Northern Mariana Islands Department of Public Safety’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles resumed all-day services on March 28 from 8 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. Services include vehicle registration and transfers, watercraft registration, and transfers, driver’s license renewals, driver exams, and drivers testing. Mask wearing and social distancing is required.
Payments should be made at the NMI Treasury in Capitol Hill, or Revenue and Tax in Dan Dan before turning in documents, or at the Office of Finance window located at DPS Firearms and records office, “BMV will not be processing documents for next-day pick-up as we slowly transition back to normalcy, a March 25 release from DPS said.
GVB Japan marketing update:
In conjunction with Asahi Broadcasting Corporation’s popular TV program “Tabi Salad,” the Guam Visitors Bureau participated in a travel expo in Osaka from March 19 to 21, which16,000 visitors attended. The event was also broadcast on “Tabi Salad” and was seen byan estimated 10 million-plus viewers.
Guma’ Famagu’on Tano’ yan I Tasi performed and showcased Guam’s charm to thousands of visitors on the event stage. The group is led by Professor Kyoko Nakayama, who trained under Master of CHamoru Dance Frank Rabon in the Guam Chamorro Dance Academy. Yuka Tabata and Shi Ho Kinuno, two Osaka ambassadors from GVB’s #HereWeGuam campaign in Japan, were also present.
GVB plans to launch its GoGo! Guam campaign in Japan with the travel trade to increase visitors to Guam. The campaign is scheduled to run from May to the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.
The bureau is also working with Japanese travel agents, airlines, and wholesalers and Guam’s travel trade partners to develop packages for the 55th anniversary in May. The Anniversary launch is planned for Japan’s Golden Week. The 55th anniversary logo combines “55” with the infinity symbol to show hope and the enduring relationship between Guam and Japan.
Meanwhile, upcoming airline arrivals in Guam from Korea include Air Seoul on March 30 from Incheon, which has announced it plans two weekly flights from May 14.
And also …
Nissan Motor Corp. in Guam will launch the 2022 Infiniti QX60 March 31.
The district office of Gregorio “Kilili” Camacho Sablan, the Northern Mariana Islands delegate to Congress, will host a one-hour virtual College and Careers Info Session for students and parents on March 31, at 3:45 p.m. via Zoom. Participants can learn about the different types of federal financial aid available, get tips on navigating FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and ask questions of representatives from the U.S. Department of Education.
Registration is required to access the meeting link, via sablan.house.gov or call the Saipan District Office at (670) 323-2647/8.
For your diary:
iCare4 Wine Dinners will be held on April 22 and April 30 at the Capitol Kitchen in Tamuning, to benefit Special Olympics Guam and the National Badminton Federation. Donation: $175. For further details contact (671) 483-3092.
The Marianas Visitors Authority’s Taste of the Marianas will be held in Saipan on two weekends – from June 18 to June 19 and from June 24 to June 26, from 5 to 10 p.m. The event will coincide with the 2022 Pacific Mini Games, MVA said. mbj