Many people aren’t fond of quarantining, but I found it to be a mini getaway.
Here’s how my experience went.
November 2021 CNMI Quarantine Guidelines
As of the day I entered the CNMI in early November, the quarantine guidelines were as follows:
All travelers arriving, vaccinated or not, were to be quarantined for five days in a designated quarantine facility. They were to be tested upon arrival, and once again on the fifth day. Those who test negative were to be released on their fifth day, and those who test positive were to be isolated in a designated government facility for 10 days.
Before arrival to the CNMI, all passengers must fill out the Health Declaration Form at least 72 hours before.
My Quarantine Experience
ARRIVAL AT THE AIRPORT
The quarantine protocol in effect upon landing was that every passenger arriving on the island was to be escorted to one of the four designated quarantine sites (which were large hotels) and stay there for five days.
Passengers were to be tested twice for this duration. The first testing is upon arrival at the airport and early morning on the fifth day. Arrival day counted as “Day 0,” so if a passenger arrived on a Thursday, their second testing day would be on Tuesday the next week. Test results were given during the afternoon or evening on the same day they were taken. On the fifth day of testing, the surveillance team would contact us through our hotel room phone about our departure if we test negative.
As I and my fellow passengers were transported to the site, I was surprised to see police escorts as well.
We were not informed beforehand what hotel we were being taken to. One of the passengers asked our driver, but he was laughing and joking around so I could not tell which of the hotels he was actually being serious with.
As we kept on going along the roads of the island, we kept moving north. And, as soon as we passed Kensington Hotel, I knew what hotel we were headed towards as it was the only hotel left on the north side of the island – Marianas Resort & Spa.
THE QUARANTINE SITE
We got off the bus and lined up to get our room key. After receiving my room key and a paper with the hotel and quarantine rules and regulations, I picked up my luggage, which was situated with the other luggage a couple of feet in front of us.
I ventured off to my room which was…a tiring, and struggling, walk, to say the least (my room was near the very back of the property).
Eventually, I arrived at my room and gave myself a room tour. It wasn’t every day I get to stay in a hotel, let alone one that I get to stay in for six whole days and was free of charge.
The room was spacious, and I was very excited to stay in it. It had a separate toilet and shower room, along with a bathtub that I didn’t use. There were two twin-sized beds, couches, lots of tables, a closet, a TV that I also didn’t use, an AC unit that I kept turned on the entire duration of my stay, and a balcony with a beautiful view.
Overall the room was lovely, and I wouldn’t have minded staying there for an actual vacation with friends.
QUARANTINE PROCEDURES AND RULES
We were given a couple of hotel information and rules to follow, which were to be expected in order to keep things organized and everyone safe during our stay.
Here are a couple of guides:
Meals – These were given 3 times each day – breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Our meals were delivered between certain times and were placed on the mini tables in front of our door. Any dietary needs and food allergies were requested from passengers by the surveillance team upon receiving our room keys.
Outside Meals / Deliveries – Package and meal drop-off times were provided and were to be dropped off at the front desk with our name and room number included. Payments were to be made over the phone as no cash transaction was allowed. Staff would deliver them to our room the same way they deliver our regular meals.
Trash – They were to be placed outside in clear bags every night at a certain time for hotel staff to pick up.
Laundry – This was not allowed until after departure. If we ran out of clean clothes, we were advised to contact a family or friend to drop them off.
Departure – This was permitted after negative results were obtained by the surveillance team. We were able to request any luggage transportation assistance. The room must be disposed of our personal items, and used linens left on the ground. Any “damaged/missing items or requiring excessive cleaning will be charged accordingly.”
CHCC AND COVID-19 TASK FORCE HOUSE RULES:
We were not allowed to leave our room. Our room keys were taken away from us minutes after entering our rooms.
We were not allowed to step on the balcony in order to limit any cross-contamination as well as maintain the safety of the guests and staff.
Visitors were not allowed at any given time.
Smoking and alcohol were not permitted inside the room.
Guests under 18 years old must be accompanied by a legal guardian who is at least 18 years old or older.
Law Enforcement agents were stationed 24 hours a day / 7 days a week to assist in enforcing the rules.
All public spaces, except elevators, were closed.
It was around 9 AM when I finally made it to my room. I was tired as heck, but some of that tiredness went away due to my curiosity and excitement of being in a cool room and an actual bed to sleep in.
I tried connecting to their Wi-Fi, but my phone was not picking up their signal. I tried using my laptop, and it was also not picking up. I did get concerned because upon arriving on the island, part of our agreement when filling out the Health Declaration Form was that we were to be signed up for the Sara Alert System – a system that tracks how the individual is doing and if they need extra assistance. There were two ways to be contacted by the system – by text or by email. As I didn’t have a working phone number, I opted to receive contact through email. If we don’t check in with the system, we could be in trouble.
So, I decided to contact the Surveillance Team for assistance. Not the best experience. The representative I spoke with sounded annoyed at the fact I was asking such questions about the Wi-Fi. Her suggestion didn’t help at all, either. Needless to say, I avoided contacting them again throughout my stay.
I decided to then call my parents using the hotel phone to update them on what’s going on. I even tried tricking them by changing the sound of my voice since they didn’t have the number saved, but my mom knows me too well. We talked on the phone for a bit afterward, and I did mention the Wi-Fi not working. I knew they were coming to drop off some things I requested from them days ahead, so I asked if they would also get me a temporary SIM card with data so I could access my email for the Sara Alert System.
A couple of hours later, I received a knock on my door, and upon opening it, I saw the huge bag of goodies my parents dropped off for me. The staff who dropped it off said that my parents mentioned to him that I couldn’t get access to the Wi-Fi. I explained my situation and thankfully, his response and demeanor were much kinder and understanding. He said he would restart the router in hopes that it would help me gain access to the internet. I thanked him and silently was giving him a shoutout.
When I headed back inside, I looked inside my goodie bag. I honestly wasn’t expecting that many things from them, but my mom loves going above and beyond with things. One of the things she gave me was a temporary SIM card with unlimited data and calling, which I was very happy about. The SIM card was valid for 4 days only and I had to refill the load.
A couple of minutes later, I got another knock on my door. This time it was the staff delivering my breakfast. -Sidenote- One thing I noticed throughout the week of food deliveries is that the staff won’t leave until they see us getting our food. They don’t necessarily wait directly in front of our door. Instead, because the rooms are separated by an enclosed wall with two rooms per space, they would wait outside the enclosed wall and were of course wearing face shields and body coverings.
After I ate and showered, I decided to try the Wi-Fi again. My devices were still not connecting so I decided to take a nap.
I woke up about two hours later to the sound of knocking on my door, signifying the arrival of my lunch. And surprisingly, my phone was connected to the hotel’s internet. I was surprised but happy that I was able to connect. My laptop was placed on a desk in front of the wall closest to the hotel lobby, and it was connected too. What I eventually learned was that the Wi-Fi only worked in that one specific area. Any further than it, it kept disconnecting.
I ended up watching some shows on Netflix until the final doorbell and knocking on my door came – dinner. I wasn’t as hungry because I did have some snacks in between and I was still quite full from the in-flight meals. Nonetheless, I ate as much as I could and placed all of my almost-empty meal-plates into one of the clear bags they arrive in, along with some other trash, and placed the bag outside my door a little before 7 PM for the staff to pick up.
Around this hour, I received an email regarding my COVID-19 test result, which thankfully turned out to be negative.
I ended up going to sleep again not long after.
Okay, I just wanted to add this section real quick about quarantine food.
As mentioned, we get three meals every day. These meals include the main food – rice and meat or simply eggs, bacon and other breakfast dishes, a section of vegetables, a section of fruits, a separate bowl for soup, and something to drink – typically milk, orange juice, or a bottle of water.
The meals were obviously not 5-star quality meals. But they were still food. I liked all of the meals I was given. Some of them I had never tried before but tasted pretty good when I had the chance to try them. The meals were more than enough to fulfill my hunger and, for the most part, we were given a variety of them so as to not get tired of repeating dishes.
I woke up every day around 2 AM, which was 7 AM California time – the time I have been typically waking up from for the past 1.5 years.
I definitely did not have jetlag (note the sarcasm).
During these days, I followed almost the same routine – wake up, work, eat some snacks, watch some movies and shows, shower, eat my daily delivered meals, stare out into the scenery from behind my balcony, take some naps, talk to my parents, repeat. They weren’t always in this order after waking up though.
I don’t know what got into me, but I was running out of shows to watch, so I ended up watching “Squid Game” (2021). I was emotionally wrecked after that.
It was finally time for my 5th-day testing. I was called around 8 AM and was requested to head down to the reception area, along with my photo ID and mask on.
I made the long trek to the front and saw some of my flight buddies already there. I lined up, gave the task team my passport, and waited to get tested.
After getting tested, I was marked as completed and given back my room key in case I locked my door. My brain was having a farting moment and I was so out of it that I couldn’t give a proper response to the staff who was asking me questions about what my room number was and if I needed my room key.
I headed back to my room and decided to clean up my things and pack most of them away in case I was able to leave that day.
Somehow throughout the day, I just felt an immense fear and worry that my result would come back positive. I distracted myself with more movies and shows.
Around 6 PM, I received a call that my result came back negative (*screams in relief*), and once I was ready, I was to head out to the front and wait for my ride.
I immediately called my parents to come and pick me up.
As I waited a couple more minutes in my room for my parents to arrive, I double-checked everything and did one last longing look at the room I stayed in for the last six days. It was bittersweet.
I trekked all the way to the front and was officially signed out by staff and waited a couple of minutes for my parents.
They arrived and I gave them the biggest bear hugs.
My Final Thoughts About Quarantining in Saipan
The staff, for the most part, was kind and accommodating.
The meals were fulfilling.
The room was comfortable.
The Wi-Fi, once I finally figured out the system, was speedy. If you are to be quarantined in Marianas Resort & Spa, request to be placed in a room closer to the front for better Wi-Fi access.
Law enforcement agents did a good job monitoring us, as I would hear golf carts passing by the front and back areas of my room. I’ve always assumed that was them making sure things were okay and no one was breaking any rules.
The rules and information provided were understandable and easy to follow.
I do admit that during the last 2 days, I was feeling a bit antsy at not having some sort of fresh air that lasted longer than 5 minutes for multiple days. Being an introvert, I could easily handle being indoors for weeks, just as long as I can breathe in some fresh air every now and then. It definitely would have eased the anxiety in me if I was allowed to step out to the balcony, but rules were in place for a reason. And let’s face it, I’m too afraid to break them.
Current CNMI Entry and Quarantine Guidelines
For updated CNMI entry and quarantine guidelines, please visit the CNMI CHCC Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force website.