Puerto Rico’s governor imposes curfew, partial business closures to combat coronavirus

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Puerto Rico’s governor imposes curfew, partial business closures to combat coronavirus
Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez's
Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vázquez

Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez’s full message on curfew, partial business closures

On March 12, I decreed a State of Emergency due to the situation that Puerto Rico and the world are experiencing as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Since then, I have urged citizens to maintain social distance to avoid contagion as a result of the first cases reported as positive in Puerto Rico.

Given that the response of some citizens has not been adequate in the face of the emergency situation, our priority is health and protecting the lives of all of us who live on this Island.

I would like to announce that starting today, Sunday at 6 p.m., our government will implement stricter social control and isolation measures to prevent the spread of this virus.

An executive order has been issued for the partial closure of all businesses, with the exception of those dedicated to the sale of food and wholesale distribution, medical equipment, pharmacies, supermarkets, gas stations, banking or financial institutions, and those related to the food, medicine, medical items or fuel distribution chain.

This closing order applies to shopping malls, movie theaters, concert halls, theaters, gyms, gambling halls, casinos, establishments that sell alcoholic beverages, or any similar place that encourages the gathering of a group of citizens in the same space.

For the purposes stated, in the case of private medical offices, health professionals must ensure that they manage the preventive care of their patients.

I have also ordered the establishment of a curfew for all residents of Puerto Rico. It will begin at 9 pm until 5 am the following day, which will run until March 30.

Those authorized for work or emergency reasons will be excluded from the curfew, as provided in the executive order.

Given the possibility of transmission and spread of the virus through asymptomatic people, we have to take all precautions not to become potential carriers.

Therefore, if we as a people want to control the epidemic, we have to take forceful measures as has happened in other countries. It is enough to examine the international experience to know that if we do not act with greater determination and firmness today, the consequences tomorrow will be serious.

We are aware that the action we are taking will have collateral effects on the economy. However, we must establish a balance with the goal that our population is protected.

Protecting our population at this time of crisis will allow us to recover more tomorrow what we stop accruing today. In this sense, we appreciate the solidarity of hospital and commercial business organizations with whom we held several very productive meetings.

With them we talked about the situation we are facing and the public policy alternatives that we consider prudent to prevent the spread of this virus.

To all of you, I thank you again for your commitment for your solidarity with the Puerto Rican people. We are working together hand in hand to overcome this moment of crisis and I am sure that with the cooperation of all working together, we will overcome it.

All citizens must remain in their homes to contribute to preventing the spread of this virus.

That is everyone’s responsibility. I urge you to access social media to review the executive order.

May God bless our Puerto Rico. Thank you.”

Notice from Carla Campos, executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company

Dear Industry Stakeholders: Today, Hon. Wanda Vázquez-Garced, Governor of Puerto Rico, signed into effect Executive Order 2020­023, which seeks to contain and manage the impact of COVID-19 in Puerto Rico.

The Executive Order can be found in the following link: tinyurl.com/OE-2020-23.

What follows is a guide on the applicability of the Executive Order on specific tourism operations.

Airports: Remain open for inbound and outbound travel. Adjustments in travel itineraries are at the discretion of each airline, in accordance with travel restrictions, as determined by the Government of the United States. Usual operations at the airport are not affected by the curfew. Passengers arriving or departing from the airports after curfew will be able to transit to and from the their respective destinations. Retail operations inside the airport will be subject to the same regulations as those in the rest of the island, allowing for only essential businesses to remain open. Restaurants and food service establishments will remain open but, limited to those that can offer their services by way of carry out or delivery. Said restaurants will be able to offer their services only in the above described manner, and will not host guests in their facilities.

Industry workforce: The Executive Order provides for employees that must transit, from their places of residence to their place of employment, after curfew to be able to do so. We strongly recommend employers provide a certification to staff whose shifts extend past curfew which may be presented to law enforcement personnel, should need be. These employees will abide by the dispositions of Section 3 of the Executive Order.

Cruise operations: The San Juan Bay is currently closed for cruise ship vessels.

Hotels: Remain open. Public areas and amenities in hotels, such as spas, pools, and recreational areas must remain closed. Room service can and should remain available for guests. Back office support to maintain essential hotel operations running are permissible. All hotels must take extraordinary measures and precautions to safeguard the health and safety of all guests, ensuring that adequate prevention and containment protocols are in place. Hotel management shall inform their employees that particular emphasis should be given to the dispositions of Section 3 of the Executive Order.

Casinos: Will remain closed from 6:00pm today until March 31, 2020.

Restaurants: Will remain open but, limited to those that can offer their services by way of drive thru, carry out, or delivery. Said restaurants will be able to offer their services only in the above described manner, and will not host guests in their facilities. Bars inside restaurants will be closed.

Restaurants inside hotels: Will remain open but, limited to those that can offer their services by way of carry out or delivery. Said restaurants will be able to offer their services only in the above described manner, and will not host guests in their facilities. Bars inside restaurants will be closed.

Attractions: All businesses should close with the exception of pharmacies, supermarkets, banks, or those related to the food or pharmaceutical industries. This applies to shopping malls, movie theaters, concert halls, casinos, bars, liquor stores, or any other place that facilitates citizens gatherings. Considering the aforementioned criteria, attractions must remain closed.

Tours: All businesses should close with the exception of pharmacies, supermarkets, banks, or those related to the food or pharmaceutical industries. This applies to shopping malls, movie theaters, concert halls, casinos, bars, liquor stores, or any other place that facilitates citizens gatherings. Considering the aforementioned criteria, tours must not operate.

Transportation providers: Transportation is an essential service. Uber and taxi drivers will be allowed to operate, subject to the limitations in Section 3 of the Executive Order.

Travel agencies: Storefront operations of travel agencies must remain closed. The Puerto Rico Tourism Company authorizes travel agents to be able to work remotely until further notice.

Sincerely,
Carla Campos
Executive Director

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