Guidelines published for first phase of economic reopening
SAN JUAN – The secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC by its Spanish initials), Manuel Laboy Rivera, announced on Monday the publication of the Business Reactivation Plan that includes a series of tools, developed by the Economic Task Force, for the reopening of certain economic activities, after the closure decreed as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In addition to the plan, a risk assessment template was published containing mitigation measures and the Employer Self-certification.
“These documents will be the initial tools that employers will use to determine the actions to be followed in the preparation process to protect the health of their employees and customers ahead of the start of operations. It is important that the best health conditions are guaranteed to avoid a significant increase in COVID-19 infections,” Laboy Rivera said in a statement.
He noted that as part of the process, a survey prepared by the Business Emergency Operations Center, an organization that is part of the Economic Task Force, in conjunction with the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics, was included, which will be used to collect frequent and updated data on aspects related to COVID-19 in businesses in Puerto Rico.
This data in turn will allow businesses to take all necessary measures to provide services safely, effectively and efficiently. This survey will serve as a baseline for the recommendations of the sector revival plan. The information provided by employers is considered confidential and the results will only be used to offer suggestions to the various economic sectors.
On the other hand, the secretary of the DDEC, said the Institute of Statistics of Puerto Rico (PRSI) will help in data management to guarantee the publication of accurate data that is necessary to make decisions about the reopening of other sectors or the adjustments needed in the event of an increase in coronavirus cases. The determination to resume the operation of new economic activities must be based on data that is as accurate as possible, always safeguarding everyone’s health.
PRSI Executive Director Orville Disdier said they developed a Unique ID Generator, which will collect basic and initial business information and assign each one a unique identification number, which will be used to protect company confidentiality. They also created the COVID-19 Business Survey, which will collect weekly information on the characteristics of active employees, the impact of COVID-19 on employees, the level of risk to employees and customers, and the capacity of the business to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.
Both tools can be accessed at: https://estadisticas.pr/en/encuesta-covid19-negocios. The information obtained through these tools will also complement the information that the Institute already receives from the Department of Health, which is analyzed and published in the COVID-19 Indicators Platform, available at: https: //statistics.pr/en/covid-19.
For the economist Roberto Toledo, who is a member of the Economic Task Force and worked on the recommended model of the first gradual reopening, it is a fundamental effort that is the basis and guide for a successful reopening.
“The initial results in a scenario without standardized mitigation protocols, with high-risk businesses operating such as supermarkets and after three incubation windows, were encouraging. Of the 63,000 employees reported in the survey as active, we have reported 25 positive cases with COVID-19, this figure is proportional to the data provided by the Department of Health. This does not mean that we let our guard down, the key continues to be a gradual reopening tied to the integration of monitoring, tracking and mitigation tools,” he said.
The DDEC secretary said the Department of Labor and Human Resources was key in these efforts because, through the guides published by the Puerto Rico Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the tools needed to support employers to resume operations safely were established.
“In the past few months, we have guided and assisted the private sector in creating their exposure control plans for COVID-19. The new Self Certification, which employers must send by email to email@example.com, contains the essential elements that an adequate plan must include, to guarantee the safety of employees in their workplaces, according to the PR OSHA guidelines,” said Labor Secretary Briseida Torres Reyes.