Chamber chair calls out 'reckless' businesses

Christine Baleto Post file photo

 

Guam Chamber of Commerce Chairwoman Christine Baleto on Wednesday called out some businesses for being "reckless" by allowing large gatherings and forcing their employees to go to work despite knowing they were COVID-19 positive.

"For those 'essential services' that have been open the whole time, it's still ... quite reckless to do something that affects the rest of the business community," she said.

Baleto was one of the guest speakers at the Rotary Club of Northern Guam's Zoom fellowship meeting.

"There were a couple of other things that shocked me beyond belief," Baleto said.

One of them, she said, was that one of the businesses on island had thrown a social gathering for its employees "where the virus spread."

"And then forcing employees to come into work even though they knew they were positive is another one that shocked me," Baleto said.

A number of businesses are still prohibited from operating, while others are struggling to operate on a limited basis. Others have no choice but to remain closed while tourism remains at a standstill.

Baleto said it's shocking to learn that anyone would compromise any business' ability to stay open, and more importantly, put everyone's health and safety at risk.

Appeal to employers

Baleto expressed the chamber's full support for Dr. Hoa Nguyen, chairman of the governor's physicians advisory group, in calling on employers to do their part in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Nguyen, who was also a guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Northern Guam meeting, said Guam could go into a third surge of COVID-19 cases that's worse than the current one as people let their guard down.

Nguyen and Baleto appealed to the business sector to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on business and workplace safety.

They called on business owners, managers and supervisors to communicate with their employees at least once a week on these guidelines, and to make sure that employees follow through with them.

For example, employees should not take their break together in one area where they take off their masks, talk and eat.

"You let your guard down, and this is how the rapid spread is happening," she said.

Baleto said the high numbers and increasing hospitalizations are a threat to the whole business community.

"Kudos to all those who go above and beyond to protect their employees and their customers and their businesses," she said.

'Everyone is a front-liner'

Rotary Club of Northern Guam President Hermie Queja echoed the guest speakers' statements that the economy can move forward only if everyone pitches in to help.

"As Dr. Nguyen said, everyone is a front-liner," Queja said.

Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

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