Some businesses will be able to reopen at a 25% capacity, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero announced during today's COVID-19 update. 

Beginning at noon tomorrow, Sept. 25, retail stores and personal care such as hair, nails, tattoo shops, and pet grooming businesses will be able to operate. Face-to-face businesses will have to conducted on an appointment-only basis. 

While malls may reopen as well, all common areas will remain closed, she said. In addition, outdoor dining for restaurants will be allowed. However, in-door restaurant dining is still prohibited. 

Firing ranges, individual water sports, scuba diving, golf, and tennis will be allowed, the governor added.

Leon Guerrero also noted that all incoming travelers will continue to be quarantined. However, on Day 6, they will be tested and if tests are negative will be allowed complete their quarantine at home. 

“This pandemic has been our lives for the better part of this year, and I know many of you are experiencing quarantine fatigue," the governor stated, but she reiterated the need to continue observing the basics of no congregating, wearing masks, and washing and sanitizing hands regularly. 

"We are opening businesses back up," the governor stated. "The safe way is to gradually open (businesses) and see how people behave and how people react."

Small businesses advocate PCOR1.5

Representatives of the local business community have asked Leon Guerrero to consider allowing retailers and dine-in restaurants to reopen with 25% occupancy limit during "PCOR1.5." 

The governor today reiterated that changes to the pandemic condition of readiness on current restrictions hinge on hospitalization data, among other things.

The business representatives to the governor's COVID-19 Economic Recovery Group provided recommendations to a strategy to open up the economy.

They seek the reopening of shopping centers, beauty salons, auto sales, real estate, spas, golf courses and others, with strict compliance with health and safety guidelines, during Pandemic Condition of Readiness "1.5."

Adelup on Thursday coined the term "PCOR1.5," which maintains a PCOR1 status but with some restrictions eased.

Guam remains on extended lockdown during PCOR1, the highest level of restrictions.

Business representatives seek reopening of nonessential businesses with 25% occupancy limit during "PCOR1.5" and 50% occupancy limit during PCOR2, with strict compliance with the required masks, temperature checks, social distancing and other guidelines.

The suggestions include allowing outdoor dining with social distancing.

They ask that individual outdoor sports such as golf, tennis and hotel pools be allowed to open, with social distancing and only up to four people per group.

For spas, they recommend by appointment-only service on separate rooms and with 25% occupancy.

Spas should be required to maintain a guest list, according to the recommendations.

These suggestions represent inputs from members of the Guam Chamber of Commerce, the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association and the Women Chamber of Commerce, that are represented on the governor's Economic Recovery Group.

These groups represent hundreds of businesses employing tens of thousands of people who have now been laid off, furloughed or getting work hour cuts for an indefinite period of time.

"We hope and pray she (the governor) considers it," Guam Premier Outlets General Manager Monte Mesa said.

GPO in Tamuning, Micronesia Mall in Dededo, Compadres Mall in Dededo and Tumon Sands Plaza have been closed for weeks, except for some of their restaurant-tenants that offer curbside service.

For real estate and automotive sales, for example, they suggest allowing by-appointment only operations and with only 25% office staff.

The same goes with beauty, hair or nail salons and barber shops, they suggest, plus customers can only wait for their appointment in the car, to be called when ready.

Press Secretary Krystal Paco-San Agustin said while GovGuam continues to be in the COVID-response phase, it continues to plan for the eventual COVID-recovery phase.

"When that time will come is dependent on public health data including hospitalization," she said.

Over the last week, daily hospitalization has gone down from about 50 to about 40 but still far from the zero to less than five daily months back.

"As with all planning, this requires deliberations about plan specifics with subject matter experts. Once there is a final decision made, that information will be announced,' Paco-San Agustin said. "To avoid confusion, I hope that we continue to focus on staying home, practicing social distancing, washing your hands, and staying safe."

For months, businesses have called on the governor to allow them to operate with restrictions, instead of shutting them down completely so that their business can have a fighting chance of surviving the pandemic.

Except for a few weeks, a number of businesses such as bars have been ordered to close since March 20, as part of GovGuam efforts to control COVID-19.

Even businesses that have been in operation for 20 to 40 years have started closing their doors for good because of COVID-related restrictions.

A surge in COVID deaths, hospitalizations and confirmed cases starting in August brought Guam back to PCOR1.

Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

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