MVA says stringent requirements for international arrivals necessary

VACCINES: Customs personnel stand by as the first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine is unloaded from a United Airlines aircraft at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport in December 2020.  Contributed photo

International travelers flying into the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands will have to show negative PCR tests for COVID-19 before boarding their flights.

The requirement is more stringent than that for ongoing domestic flights from Guam, but necessary, according to the Marianas Visitors Authority.

The policy aligns with the U.S. national standard for all arriving passengers from foreign destinations, the agency stated. The requirement applies to all flights, including weekly flights by Jeju Air, Asiana Airlines and T’Way from Korea, which started July 24.

Additionally, passengers still will need to quarantine for five days at the government’s designated hybrid quarantine resort and test negative for a third time before release.

“The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. and CNMI COVID-19 Task Force have done a tremendous job of preventing COVID-19 at our borders, and all of the our offshore travel partners in Korea are aware that all passengers must have a negative PCR within 72 hours prior to embarkation to the Marianas,” said MVA managing director Priscilla Maratita Iakopo.

“These requirements for international flights are even more stringent than what has been applied for arriving passengers from Guam, where we still continue to see some cases pop up. With our first flight from Korea last Saturday (July 24) and our familiarization tour flight on July 17, we did not have any positive tests.”

Travel bubble

Iakopo emphasized that community protection against COVID-19 remains the central point of discussion among public and private sector partners involved in the planning for the pilot program.

She also stated that under the new travel bubble between the Marianas and Korea, group travel only for vaccinated individuals is encouraged, and all nonvaccinated passengers will need to quarantine for five days.

Under the two-month CNMI Travel Resumption Investment Plan program, after five days of quarantine, passengers will then be allowed to transfer to only two other approved hotels in Saipan. If the program is successful in maintaining community safety against COVID-19, the industry is anticipated to continue a slow and organic recovery over the coming month.