Calling a checkpoint by another name doesn't make it legit

PERIMETER: Two Guam National Guard airmen assist the Guam Police Department with perimeter security and visitor control at the isolation site in Barrigada Heights. The members were activated March 21 to help the island during the COVID-19 response. The governor will mobilize guardsmen to "road closures" starting this Saturday. Photo courtesy of the Guam National Guard 

Guam residents will be restricted from being on the road beginning Tuesday, April 7, unless they can demonstrate an essential reason.

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero announced on Friday the Guam Police Department and the Guam National Guard will be enforcing the new restrictions and conducting checkpoints to verify why people are out on the roadways.

She said the escalated measures are an effort to prevent a drastic increase in positive cases of COVID-19 on Guam. Without drastic measures, the number of COVID-19 deaths on Guam could rise to 700 and some estimates project thousands of deaths five months from now if the spread of the disease cannot be slowed, according to projections the governor's medical advisory group made.

“These actions will include greater control of our roadways and tighter social distancing requirements,” she said. “Access to public roadways will be limited to movement for the purposes of traveling to and from essential activities, which I have authorized under Executive Order 2020-05. While we are currently working out the details, vehicles on Guam’s roadways will be required to display signs showing the essential function that necessitates their presence on the road.”

The consequences for violators have yet to be determined. The governor said she is in consultation with police and the Guam National Guard on enforcement action if people continue to go on the road on unnecessary travels.

Details on enforcement are expected to be released this weekend.

The governor did say she isn't imposing a curfew for adults. A curfew already exists for minors.

Socializing 'a very serious mistake'

“Furthermore, social gatherings of any type, whether public or private, will be prohibited. To break the chain of transmission, your social interactions must be limited to those you are currently isolated with,” she said.

“These measures will be serious because we face serious consequences. But we have the power to keep ourselves safe — and we must use that power now. As we continue to enforce the Social Isolation Directive and people are limited to their homes, it can feel like we are in this alone," the governor said. "We may be tempted to think that we must only worry about ourselves and not others. That is a very dangerous mistake. We must remember that we are in this together. Now is the time for solidarity. To win the battle, we must fight with love and compassion for those most vulnerable.”

The administration has not decided if it will extend the closure of schools or nonessential government services after April 13.

Not a lockdown

Leon Guerrero said the added restrictions don't amount to a lockdown of the island.

“I am using my authority to minimize exposure of our community so that we can better control and eradicate the transmission of the virus. Maybe we can finish it in two weeks, three weeks or four weeks … it’s really up to us. We control it,” she said. “The worst would be to close all businesses, close all military bases, no construction, close the grocery stores and pharmacies. Those are drastic steps and I am hoping we don’t get to that point. I know we won’t get to that point if we just follow and comply. If we don’t do this, then it could go on for five months.”

The governor added that these actions have been taken in other countries. She is hopeful it will lead to better results for Guam in the next two weeks.

Recommended for you