The Department of Public Health and Social Services is evaluating whether its inspectors can suspend a business’ sanitary permit for violating COVID-19 regulations.
“We are working with the attorney general’s office on getting further guidance to address the enforcement aspect for Public Health on being able to suspend sanitary permits of establishments,” said Janela Carrera, Public Health spokeswoman.
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Public Health suspends sanitary permits for food safety violations. Suspending a sanitary permit would close down the establishment, according to Carrera.
The agency conducts regular inspections for COVID-19 compliance. Division of Environmental Health inspectors recently cited 10 establishments.
- Shirley’s Coffee Shop in Tamuning was cited on Oct. 5 for not requiring and enforcing mandatory face masks with employees/customers.
- Minagof Mart and Crown Bakery were also cited that day for failing to require and enforce face mask use, not having signage for face masks and social distancing and not having an organization-specific guidance plan, according Public Health inspection results.
- Savvy Nails & Pedi Spa and Hair Etc. were cited Oct. 6 for not having guidance plans and not following Public Health guidance memos, according to inspection reports. Savvy Nails also was cited for failing to enforce social distancing inside their business.
- Butterhouse and Sanctuary Inc. were cited for not having signs for face masks, according to Public Health.
- Lucky Nails and New Central America Beauty Shop were cited for not having guidance plans and exceeding the occupancy limits in their establishments, according to Public Health.
- Also cited was McKraut’s Restaurant. On Oct. 10, Public Health inspectors received a video showing people without masks inside McKrauts. The next day, inspectors visited and cited the owner for failing to enforce use of face masks, failing to enforce social distancing, not having a guidance plan in place. The inspection report noted that face mask and social distancing violations were fixed on the spot.
According to the inspection report, the restaurant owner said the people in the video were coming inside to order drinks from the bar. The owner was advised that drink orders must be taken outside and customers are only allowed inside for takeout orders and must keep their distance, the report stated.
The inspectors also evaluated the restaurant for food safety guidelines and gave McKrauts a “B” rating on Oct. 11.
Inspectors visited again and cited McKrauts for a repeat violation of not having an organization-specific guidance plan, according to Carrera.
When it comes to enforcement of COVID-19 regulations, the Guam Police Department and the Office of the Attorney General emphasize education and self-regulation above criminalization.
GPD has had over 2,000 interactions with the public about COVID-19 rules during the public health emergency, mostly counseling residents about the limits on congregating, according to Sgt. Paul Tapao, GPD spokesman.
When officers instruct residents to disperse, people have listened, he said.
“We do our best to educate and counsel first,” Tapao said.
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So far, GPD hasn’t issued citations for COVID-19 violations, Tapao said.
“Although we have the authority to effectuate and issue citations and effectuate arrests, we do the continuum of counseling,” he said.
GPD has made one arrest related to a COVID-19 violation, which was of a man accused of violating mandatory quarantine regulations, according to Tapao.
Attorney General Leevin Camacho has said “community policing and self-regulation are far more important than criminalizing violations.”
The AG’s office committed to reviewing any referrals from Public Health for possible criminal charges. However, the office also emphasized that data showed nearly half of cases with confirmed epidemiological links are transmitted within households.
“Community policing and self-regulation remain the most effective method of limiting the spread of COVID-19,” the AG’s office said.