CNMI eases curfew but asks for more federal help

8:02 am on 4 May 2020

With 15 days of no Covid-19 cases, the Northern Marianas has eased its curfew on residents from 7pm to 6am to just seven hours from 10pm to 5am.

The original 11-hour curfew was imposed as part of the governor's emergency directives to aid efforts to contain the coronavirus by stopping large social gatherings.

CNMI Governor Ralp DLG Torres.

CNMI Governor Ralp DLG Torres. Photo: Office of the Governor of CNMI

Ralph Torres said with the directive successful in achieving its goals, he and the Covid-19 Taskforce decided to relax curfew hours to permit people to exercise in cooler temperatures and expand the hours for fishing.

He said these, and other similar activities, were critical to maintaining the community's physical and mental wellbeing as long as social distancing requirements were met.

Currently the CNMI has no active Covid-19 cases. It previously had 14 confirmed positive cases, including two deaths.

Mass testing, that began last week at the Saipan International Airport, had also yielded 599 negative results.

The Covid-19 Taskforce said the islands' low coronavirus numbers were no accident and was the result of combined efforts that required nearly 18,000 staff hours and over $US7 million.

In a video call to a US House of Representatives committee, Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation CEO Esther Muña emphasised the CNMI was not out of the woods yet and needed more help from the federal government.

She said the CNMI needed more personal protective equipment and testing agents, financial assistance and modernisation of the 35-year-old Commonwealth Health Center.