Draft legislation proposes COVID tests at Guam airport

WAITING FOR TRAVELERS: The A.B. Won Pat International Airport in Tiyan sits mostly empty as there were very few flights as June 10. David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

A draft legislation that would implement COVID-19 testing at the A.B. Won Pat International Airport is making its rounds at the various consul general's offices on Guam.

The measure is being referred to as the Guam Healthy Entry and Departure Program.

“It gives opportunity to have medical test kits at the airport so that we can test our passengers coming in and going out,” said Speaker Tina Muña Barnes, who is working on the bill with Sens. Jose Terlaje and Clynton Ridgell.

Barnes said she has discussed the proposal with Japan Consul General Kobayashi Toshiaki, Consul General Vic April from the Republic of Palau and the Head of Mission Hee-soon Lim from Korea.

The 14-day quarantine requirement at the home countries of Guam's main sources of tourists has become a challenge for the island's visitor industry. Most visitors only stay on Guam for several days.

“Folks would not want to come here, spend several days here, then know that they have to go back home and do a mandatory quarantine for 14-days,” Barnes said.

The proposed testing at the airport – both for arriving and departing passengers – is an effort to try to convince Guam's tourism markets that travelers from Guam don't need a 14-day quarantine upon return to their home countries.

Senators also met recently with the Guam Visitors Bureau to go over the draft bill.

“If this could be an opportunity that we could work together and reciprocate our programs as far as testing and avoid mandatory quarantine, that is something that could really help us out,” she said.

The plan is to implement what Barnes called "on-the-spot rapid testing” at the airport.

She acknowledged there has been some resistance from the business community who argue testing will be a deterrent for tourists to come to Guam.

She said the measure would create a compromise for each country.

Last month, Gov. Lou Guerrero said the government is not looking at testing at the airport as an option.

“We just got to make sure we have safety protocols in place and this is a start,” Barnes said. “I think more than 70% of the community think that this is an idea that can work both ways. This is a positive step forward. What may not be OK or may have had a "No" last week or a month ago may be different today based on the information that we get, based the compiled data that’s being recorded and protocols that are being put in place.”

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