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Dozens protest Covid restrictions on Guam

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HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Business owners, employees and their supporters gathered Tuesday afternoon to protest recent closures and current restrictions set in place by Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero.

Demonstrators marched through the Tumon strip, beginning at Acanta Mall and ending at pleasure island.

The demonstration began around 4 p.m. and attracted more than 50 people by late afternoon, amassing a scattered display of poster boards, plywood and the occasional American flag.

Earlier in the afternoon, a young boy could be seen walking with his family as they made their way to the larger group of protesters. "I miss my friends," his sign said.

Some signs called for businesses to be allowed to open, others criticized closing off beaches and parks to exercise activities, but each one was an expression of displeasure with the current situation in one way or another.

"Recall Lou," the group chanted at one point.

 

Children were among the demonstrators carrying signs protesting Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero's stay-at-home orders on Tuesday in Tumon. Photo by Norman M. Taruc/ The Guam Daily Post

"I'm here because I want my business to open and I want to be able to go to the beach," said Tara Mahathey, a bartender at Old Traditions. "We were open for two weeks since March and we want to get back to work.... I don't want to continue to use government money for unemployment. It's not fair and we're not getting what we deserve. And I want to go to the beach. This is ridiculous."

The protest was organized along WhatsApp chats and social media channels. News of the protest spread even to the governor who, in a letter to the editor, stated that individuals could unknowingly continue spreading Covid-19 caught during protests or at parties.

"By choosing to violate these directives in protest, you could prolong the restrictions we all hate so much," the governor stated. "Fifty-six percent of Guam's new Covid-19 cases came in the month of August alone. That's 458 new cases. Our intensive care unit beds are near capacity, and we have lost seven souls to this virus."

Mahathey said she did not see the letter from the governor but did see a snippet of the governor's social media post about it.

"I didn't read it because I didn't care what she had to say. I was coming down to stand for anything," Mahathey said.

'There's not really much support for us'

Greg Barnes is a youth pastor at Castle Zion Church. He said he attended the protest because "the government is infringing on rights that the Bill of Rights says the government will never infringe upon.... I want all of this to stop before it's too late."

Barnes said he believes the reason behind the government's actions — the number of Covid-19 cases — is a good reason to protect people, but the approach being used is "backwards." People who should be quarantined or isolated are those who are sick or at high risk, and to quarantine everyone is crazy, he added.

"I know a lot of people who have businesses and they're all struggling right now...and our church is really struggling a lot right now also. I don't think that there's any business except for some of the big ones like Amazon and Netflix that are doing better than they were at the beginning," Barnes said.

Rosemary Duvall, a young mother, said the restrictions were overboard. Her sign depicted her daughter crying inside her home while imagining a playground.

"I am a Lou voter and I regret it because all her screaming and hollering about the people and we just stay home. There's not really much support for us. ... All she just says is 'I don't know.' If she doesn't know so much, she should find someone that does," Duvall said.

She told The Guam Daily Post about a family living down her street. The family has eight boys who hunt chickens with their dog to eat because their parents can't work, Duvall said.

"Sometimes we feel so bad for them, we give them candy, whatever we can, but there's really nothing we can do to help them. We wish we could do more," she added.

There was some sense of fear among some protesters — not of the virus, but of the government. Some individuals the Post spoke to did not want to give their name over feared repercussions.

The protest also gathered the attention of the Guam Police Department, which kept a steady presence throughout the demonstration, driving through the strip repeatedly.

 

 

 

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