Tourism reopening postponed indefinitely

DESERTED: On a Friday afternoon, Tumon's Pleasure Island, once the hub of commerce and tourism, looks deserted. Guam's visitor industry was initially scheduled to reopen on July 1 but a resurgence of COVID-19 cases has led to the postponement of tourism's reopening. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero on Friday extended Guam's state of public health emergency through July as Guam is seeing a recent rise in COVID-19 cases.

The governor also officially announced tourism's reopening will not take place on July 1 as initially planned. No new target date was announced.

The core markets of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are being notified of the delay in the reopening of Guam's tourism, the governor said.

Between Thursday and today, there were 16 new COVID-19 cases including a Department of Corrections officer assigned to the women's correctional facility.

That total increases Guam's active cases to 63. Guam has a total of 247 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

"I am alarmed over the cases we've seen," the governor said.

The concern also prompted the cancellation of today's islandwide beach cleanup and beautification. More than 700 had signed up for the event that is now indefinitely on hold.

National attention

NBC News has reported that Guam now tops the states and territories in the highest rate of increase over a one-week period – with a 438% increase in COVID-19 cases over one week.

The governor appealed for the public to not let their down their guard.

“I just also want to plead and urge you, as we have lifted restrictions and as we see more mobility in our people out in the community, to please protect yourselves, protect your families, protect your friends, protect our community by wearing your mask, adhering to social distancing, washing your hands, sanitizing," the governor said.

"We must continue to be very vigilant and very diligent in making sure that we use these preventive measures to protect our people. We will continue to monitor, contact tracing, quarantine people, isolate people, test our people and even more so as we move further out and as we look at what this coronavirus containment is telling us in the next couple of weeks.”

Mandatory quarantine still in effect

Guam was scheduled to reopen tourists from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan on July 1 without requiring them to stay in quarantine, submit to preflight COVID-19 testing or testing upon arrival at the A.B. Won Pat Guam International Airport. The mandatory quarantine on Guam was to be lifted next month.

The plan led to criticism from people like Dr. Thomas Shieh, who has advocated for pre-flight testing and testing at the Guam airport upon arrival of incoming travelers.

On Friday, the governor's office stated, mandatory 14-day quarantine measures and testing requirements are still in effect for all travelers entering the island.

'Right thing to postpone'

“It has always been the condition that if things change, we will revisit our reopening date. I want to thank our travel trade and industry partners for giving us a moment to get our house in order so we can all enjoy our beautiful island together at a later time,” said GVB President & CEO and former Governor Carl T.C. Guiterrez. “It is the right thing to postpone for the safety of everyone, and we are encouraged by the increasing level of interest in the number of tourists wanting to visit our island.”

The governor has not proceeded with the initial plan to increase the size of group gatherings to 50 people at a time as was initially planned.

Congregating in public remains limited to no more than 25 people, said Press Secretary Krystal Paco-San Agustin.

Increased testing

“As governor, I continue to do whatever we can – and however we can – to keep our community safe and to keep our coronavirus-19 contained and make sure that we provide the necessary preventive measures to prevent the spread,” Leon Guerrero stated.

“I’d like to just say that total testing that we have done so far is 11,648. We have increased our capacity for testing, we have now an increase in robust random testing out in the community and our community outreach. The reason we have this is we want to get a real good picture of what we are doing in terms of community spread.”

“As a result of increased testing, we expect (to see an) increase positive cases and that’s exactly what is happening. Yesterday, we saw 14 cases reported of positive out of 309 tests done. We also had two more this morning. So we now have 16 cases positive since last night’s addition.”

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