“I CAN assure you, it’s not going to happen again, but if it happens, tough measures are going to be coming to the individual,” CNMI Covid-19 Task Force Chairman Warren Villagomez said on Friday when asked about quarantined individuals breaking protocols.

Last week, returning resident and freelance photographer David Butterfield left the government-designated quarantine site at Kanoa prior to his official release.

The following day, Butterfield was apprehended by Department of Public Safety officers and CNMI Covid-19 Task Force members and was sent back to the quarantine site to complete his quarantine period.

“We’re doing everything we can to [collect] the evidence,” Villagomez said. “We’re [completing] the final report on the incident.”

He added, “If an individual does not respect the process, we need to be swift and make changes…. We are not complacent. We have all…the measures…in place. We owe it to our community, too. We are successful because of them, but nevertheless, this incident is very isolated,” referring to Butterfield.

Villagomez said the penalty includes a $500 fine as well as possible jail time, depending on the severity of the violation.

“DPS is investigating the case, and so is the [Office of the] Attorney General…. Things are in motion, but again, we’re doing everything we can and [we’re taking note of the] lessons learned,” he added.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, for his part, said, “It’s a learning process…. [But] I assure you and the community that the task force has made adjustments to make it safer for the community....”

Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. Chief Executive Officer Esther L. Muna said a returning resident who violates the safety protocols is “putting this community at risk.”

She added, “As more data are collected and more breakthrough cases are identified as well after testing, CDC and even CHCC are getting a better picture of transmissibility among the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. We are confident that risk is reduced when a fully vaccinated individual returns versus one who is not vaccinated. A prior infection with vaccination is a lower risk, but not an elimination of risk.”

Butterfield, who said he had recovered from Covid-19, completed his 10-day quarantine on Friday, Variety learned

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