All passengers arriving into Guam will continue to be subjected to mandatory quarantine at the government facility, but passengers who test negative after the sixth day of their arrival will soon be allowed to quarantine at home.
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero on Thursday announced the new policy reducing the 14-day quarantine in a government facility and allowing home quarantine after travelers test negative. For travelers who don't reside on Guam, they can stay in another "approved" lodging facility, the governor's executive order states.
The change takes effect on Saturday, Sept. 26.
The update to the quarantine rules came a couple of hours after the Public Defender Service Corporation was appointed by the court to provide legal representation for all passengers arriving into Guam who are placed into the government’s quarantine facility.
Superior Court of Guam of Guam Judge Elyze Iriarte announced her decision during a consolidated hearing held on Thursday morning.
More than a dozen passengers in quarantine have since taken the Department of Public Health and Social Services to court arguing their due-process rights were violated, and that they were being held against their will.
The court has granted several passengers' requests to be released to quarantine at home in recent weeks.
Judge: Passengers still not told of their rights
“Incoming passengers are still not receiving directives or being told of their legal rights upon their entry,” said Iriarte, as she ordered Public Health to allow the public defender to be present at the A.B. Won Pat International Airport to meet incoming passengers.
Iriarte said the quarantine procedure has been inadequate.
“We are trying to make sure that their rights are being preserved,” she said. “The current system that you have in place, I am sorry, but Public Health is not doing their job in notifying them.”
The court also said passengers who filed petitions before the court prior to the appointment can continue to work with the private counsel that they initially hired.
The judge also advised Public Defender Executive Director Stephen Hattori to work with the Office of the Attorney General to develop a certain form that would advise passengers of their due process rights.
The court has previously stated the government must immediately inform travelers they have the right to petition the court if they want to seek release from quarantine. At the same time, the court has recognized the government's need to implement a quarantine policy.
Dr. Felix Cabrera, a member of the Physicians Advisory Group and State Surgeon Cell, was called to testify on behalf of the government during Thursday’s hearing, as the court is trying to determine if mandatory quarantine is the only necessary option.
“The same evidence comes up over and over,” Iriarte said. “I want to go back to issues about testing to determine whether or not there are less restrictive alternatives.”
Judge Iriarte granted the request for two more petitioners to be released from government quarantine late Thursday, including UFC fighter Trevin Jones.