The government of Guam is expected to ease current quarantine requirements for incoming travelers, but only if half of the island’s population 16 or older are fully vaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19.
“One year ago, today, we began our fight. Because of your patience, commitment, willingness to protect our island we are here today. We have done a great job in containing this virus and making our numbers low,” said Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero during a press conference held on Monday.
“If we can fully vaccinate 50% of our adult population – this is 16 years or older – by May 1, we will reopen our borders to travelers."
The administration is referring to their efforts to vaccinate up to 62,500 people as “Path to Half.”
Process to avoid quarantine
“It basically means that we will make adjustments to our quarantine requirements. We are going to change our travel requirement protocols as we see these numbers and as we get 50% vaccination of our population," the governor said.
She said when the 50% vaccination threshold is reached, there will be a process to get exempted from quarantine.
"If someone, whether resident or non-resident, whether from the U.S. or otherwise, enters Guam with a negative PCR test 72 hours before arrival, they can avoid quarantine, both (in a government facility or self-quarantine at home), but they must download the COVID Alert App and must enroll in SARA Alert for 14 days,” she said.
Arriving passengers without a negative PCR test will still be required to go into mandatory quarantine.
Leon Guerrero adds that COVID-19 testing will not be done at the A.B. Won Pat International Airport.
“We mapped it out and we felt the process will delay our people getting through Customs and Immigration at the airport,” she said. “We stand ready to manage any potential spikes."
She said GovGuam's "big goal is trying to figure out how to provide testing so people leaving Guam can get tested and don’t have to quarantine" when they go back to their home countries.
“Our ultimate goal in Operation Liberate Guam is to fully vaccinate 80% of the adult population by July 21, 2021. This goal of fully vaccinating 50% by May 1, 2021, was a threshold designed to adjust travel quarantine requirements,” she said. “We still have a lot of preparation to do, and we need to ensure these goals are met before reopening but we need to prepare now,” she said.
The governor said part of the initiative is to ensure industry workers are vaccinated and protected, as the Island Beautification Task Force and the Guam Visitors Bureau work to clean up the island for the anticipated return of tourists.
Normalcy toward year's end
While the island's tourism industry is expected to start welcoming tourists in May, visitors are not expected to arrive in droves until the latter part of the year, the governor acknowledged.
The governor adamantly said mask-wearing will continue for a while.
"We absolutely do not want to go through another strict lockdown. This requires you, our community, to remain vigilant and to be careful and to continue wearing your mask, wash your hands and watch your distance even if you are vaccinated," the governor said.
And in accordance with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Department of Public Health and Social Services guidelines, the governor said, "we are not out of the woods yet and we don't expect normalcy until the end of the year."
As of Sunday, 29,134 individuals have been fully vaccinated on Guam, according to the Joint Information Center.
When asked by the media how she would grade the government’s response to the pandemic, Leon Guerrero said, "A-plus grade and is in the National Honor Society."
She said she has no regrets, adding that her administration has made the right decisions in responding to the pandemic over the past year.