Churches and restaurants can start operating at an increased maximum capacity of 75% by 8 a.m. Friday as Guam continues to see fewer new COVID-19 cases and with 32% or 40,358 of its vaccine-eligible population now fully vaccinated.

Competitive contact sports can also resume Friday morning, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said.

The governor signed on Wednesday an executive order easing additional restrictions during Pandemic Condition of Readiness 3.

Under PCOR3, most activities are permitted to operate under moderate restrictions to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

"This is definitely good news for us and the restaurant industry," according to Jennifer McFerran, marketing manager for International Dining Concepts, which operates California Pizza Kitchen, Pika's Café, Beachin' Shrimp, Ban Thai Restaurant & Lounge. and Eat Street Grill.

Restaurants and places of worship are currently allowed to operate only up to 50% of their maximum occupancy. But that will change on Friday.

"Every little bit helps us. With more things opening up, it's definitely good momentum and good for business so we'd just continue what we can to keep everybody safe while rebuilding our economy," McFerran said.

The governor's announcement came a few hours after International Dining Concepts opened its job fair, as it seeks to hire more servers, bartenders, restaurant supervisors, cooks, prep cooks, dishwashers, hosts and bussers.

The governor said places of worship intending to operate under the increased capacity of up to 75% of their occupancy load must submit revised facility mitigation plans to the Department of Public Health and Social Services.

They are required to observe all mitigation measures, including social distancing of at least 6 feet and posting of appropriate signage, frequent cleaning of all surfaces, and mandating the wearing of masks.

Indoor dining at eating and drinking establishments will also be permitted to increase occupancy to no more than 75% of occupancy load, subject to Public Health guidance, the governor said.

The limit remains at no more than eight persons per table when dining indoors, with 6 feet distance between tables.

Outdoor diners may be seated with no more than 15 persons per table, with 6 feet between tables.

This comes two weeks after the governor increased to 75% the maximum operational capacity for most types of businesses.

Bars and taverns, which are separate from "eating and drinking establishments," remain at a maximum allowed capacity of 50%, Adelup said.

The maximum number of people that can congregate or socially gather remains at 50.

This also comes at a time when the latest batch of federal pandemic relief funds are starting to reach the hands of residents, including the third round of economic impact payments or stimulus checks and unemployment checks.

Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

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