By Jacob Nakamura
(Tumon, Guam) Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero accomplished her goal of restricting traffic on roadways by deploying the National Guard to block four main arteries on Guam's road network. The blockade began today at 10 a.m. and will continue every day from 10 a.m. through 10 p.m. until the public health emergency is over.
The road closures are NOT checkpoints for traffic violations. Drivers should plot routes around these blockades if they intend to drive from one point to another that normally would intersect with these blockades along the main roads of Dededo, East Agana, Barrigada, and Asan.
The militia governing these blockades are not armed, according to National Guard spokeswoman Major Josephine Blas.
Neither are these blockades unprecedented during times of emergency. Previous governors have deployed the National Guard to block roadways following typhoons in order to allow for the efficient transportation of ambulances, police, construction workers, other essential personnel, and supplies and equipment to respond to emergencies quickly.
Drivers allowed to travel through these blockades are those who are conducting essential business or functions.
"The National Guard personnel will provide some general information about COVID-19, to include protective measures," Civil Defense spokeswoman Jenna Blas told Kandit News. "They will also inform the motorists that the road closures are in effect except to those conducting essential business or functions as defined by previous executive orders."
Executive Order No. 2020-05 lists essential business and functions:
Healthcare operations, including home health workers
Essential infrastructure, including construction of housing and operation of public transportation and utilities
Grocery stores, farmers' markets, food banks, convenience stores
Businesses that provide for economically disadvantaged individuals and shelter facilities
Pharmacies, health care supply stores, and health care facilities
Gas stations and auto repair facilities
Banks and credit unions
Hardware stores, plumbers, electricians, and other service providers necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences and other essential businesses
Educational institutions, for the purposes of facilitating distance learning
Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers
Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, and goods directly to residences
Roles required for any essential business to maintain basic operations, which include security, payroll, and similar activities
An April 8 DPHSS Guidance Memo 2020-05 expanded this list to include:
Eating and Drinking Establishments
Food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing
Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services
Gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair, bicycle repair and related facilities
Banks and related financial institutions (i.e., payroll, accounting, insurance, check cashing, and money transfer operations)
Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, builders, contractors, HVAC technicians, landscapers, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, essential activities, and essential businesses
Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes
Businesses that primarily supply products needed for people to work from home
Businesses that primarily supply other essential businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate
Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences
Airlines, taxis, and other private transportation providers providing transportation services necessary for essential activities and other purposes expressly authorized in Executive Order No. 2020-05
Residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, and children
Professional services, such as legal or accounting services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities
Vehicle and moped rental businesses
Automobile and bicycle sales, provided that sales must be conducted remotely or electronically. Automobiles may be delivered and leases can be returned in person “by appointment only
Distributors, wholesalers, and providers to essential business may continue operations
Business operations of firearms or ammunition products and accessories
If you don't fall into these categories, please pick another route.
Kandit is awaiting information from the Joint Information Center on whether customers of these essential businesses and functions are allowed to pass through the blockades.
Kandit also is awaiting information from the National Guard on how the militia is verifying who may pass through the blockades.
The road closures, which are now the cause of long lines as the militia verify whether each driver is qualified to pass through the blockades, accomplishes the governor's desire to deter movement throughout the island except for essential business.
Ms Leon Guerrero last week asked the Guam Legislature to give her dictatorial powers in the absence of executive authority to establish checkpoints as deterrences.
However, for whatever reason, she and her staff neglected to comprehend her existing authority to establish road closures, which have been part of Guam's Emergency Response Plan for decades. They apparently finally read the GERP, and she issued her road closure orders via Executive Order No. 2020-10 on Good Friday.
"She closed the roads already, I don't see why she needs those powers she's asking for from the legislature now," Sen. Telo Taitague said.
Speaker Tina Muna Barnes, responding to the governor's request for dictator powers, introduced Bill No. 334-35 - the Dictator Act - which would criminalize violations of the unilateral written orders of the governor. If this bill becomes law, the governor will be able to effectively create laws by issuing orders on a piece of paper associated with the public health emergency. If anyone is caught breaking those laws, they may be arrested and, if found guilty, spend up to one year in prison.
The situation is compounded by the closure of the courts, making matters uncertain for those arrested as to how long they will languish in prison. That situation is further aggravated in light of the spread of the Coronavirus by the risk of those in prison spreading or contracting the virus since news of a Department of Corrections recruit testing positive was made known.
The legislature was supposed to debate the Dictator Act Thursday, but senators moved the bill to later in the agenda. Senators recessed the session to Monday at 9 a.m.