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CPA chair: NMI asked feds to cancel flights 2 months ago

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THE CNMI government has asked the federal authorities to cancel flights including inter-island ones to protect the Commonwealth from Covid-19, Commonwealth Ports Authority Chairwoman Kimberlyn King-Hinds said.

The CNMI government and CPA do not have the authority to cancel even inter-island flights so all they could do is to ask the airlines to voluntarily limit travels to the islands, King-Hinds said as she expressed frustration over the news about the two confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Commonwealth. One of the patients traveled from Guam. The other traveled from Saipan to Tinian and then back to Saipan.

She told Variety on Sunday that as early as January, the ports authority and the Torres-Palacios administration raised concerns with the federal government.

“I am equally as frustrated as you are and we’ve been working since mid-January to address this issue with communications all the way to [Washington,] D.C. Unfortunately, we’ve been told numerous times, that we don’t have the authority,” King-Hinds said.

“I feel your anxiety. I am just as anxious and scared, and it’s natural to feel that way given the circumstances, but we are not helpless. I am asking each and every one of you not to panic. There are a lot of things we can’t control, but what we can do is our part to prevent the further spread of Covid-19. We are all in this together. Please stay home. Take personal responsibility for the health of your family and our community. Exercise strict social distancing. Wash your hands. Don’t go to the store if you don’t have a necessity.”

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