Saturday, August 8, 2020

Gov. Vázquez adds Sunday restrictions to Covid executive order

By on July 21, 2020

(Courtesy)

Bans dining at restaurants, alcohol sales for the day

SAN JUAN – Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced amended Executive Order 2020-054 so that on Sunday, July 26, most businesses cannot open, except for pharmacies, supermarkets, gas stations and restaurants, and the sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited.

In a press release late Sunday, the governor pointed to what she called a “lack of control on the weekends, especially on Sundays, when many people forget that we are still facing the emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At a time when there is an increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, we cannot let our guard down and that is why, together with industry representatives, we have determined to take more restrictive measures, for the time being, this Sunday.”

Vázquez met with members of her medical and economic task forces, as well as with Health Secretary Lorenzo González Feliciano, Economic Development Secretary Manuel Laboy and “members of the private industry, and everyone agreed to close all businesses this Sunday, except for supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and food sales businesses,” according to the governor’s office.

Restaurants can only open to provide drive-through, delivery or pickup service. “Megastores will only be able to operate their supermarket and pharmacy areas,” reads the release.

Sunday religious services are not affected by the amendment.

The executive order announced last week remains in force until July 31. It includes a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew and the prohibition of alcohol sales after 7 p.m.

“Next Tuesday, we will all meet again to assess whether…people complied with the Executive Order over the weekend. Once analyzed, it will be determined if it is necessary to close again on Sunday, August 2. This is a precautionary measure to stop the infection curve and continue adjusting,” the governor said, adding that “private associations promised to give the message to their members,” reads the release, along with remarks by the officials involved in the decision-making.

“We are aligned with the decisions of Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced, in favor of the health of Puerto Ricans. Our support is total, because these actions are supported with scientific information. We continue to exercise our work to protect health, above all else,” the health secretary said.

“Both members of the medical and economic sectors met and reached a consensus on the need to take control of this pandemic, taking measures that mitigate against our way of life, but the sacrifice and actions that we take today will bring positive results, and I am sure that they will contribute to our mission of saving lives,” said the spokesperson for the medical task force, Dr. Segundo Rodríguez Quilichini.

“We appreciate the commitment and openness of the private sector to collaborate with the government of Puerto Rico to continue facing this COVID-19 crisis, something unprecedented, and which has certainly reflected an economic impact, but the only way to stop it is by working together,” Secretary Laboy said.

Chamber of Commerce President Juan Carlos Agosto was quoted as saying: “We reached an agreement to be able to contain the pandemic. The private sector has an important role in educating and maintaining controls so that the economy can re-emerge. If there is no health, there is no economy, and we are going to help the government in this feat.”

The executive director of the Restaurant Association (Asore by its Spanish acronym), Gadiel Lebrón, stated: “After an extensive analysis by experts in the fields of healthcare and the economic sector, we reached a consensus to achieve a balance between health and the economy of our people. Certainly, our economy has been greatly affected by this whole situation, especially jobs, which is one of the main reasons why restaurants have been operating. But above all, we have the responsibility to safeguard the health of our employees and customers so that the decision made in consensus was based on that criterion.”

“The message is that we cannot let our guard down. We have to work together to stop this virus. We have to reiterate to our customers and our employees the protocol measures to contain this virus. We have launched an educational campaign to strengthen efforts at the store level. That is our commitment,” said the president of the Retail Trade Association, Iván Báez.

“As an industry, we understand the concern. We have all invested effort, time and money to responsibly follow the protocols. We endorse the fact that there is health control for the safety of the people. As an industry, we need and are advocating that we are in compliance with hotel and casino operations, which have been affected by the closure of swimming pools and casinos, for which we are respectfully asking for reconsideration. But we understand that there are other sectors of the economy that are not following the rules and are causing the pandemic to surge, and they must be stopped,” said the former president of the Hotel Association, Miguel Vega.

The release was ended with the governor adding that the decision was made and announced early so “citizens and businesses” can “make their preparations early, so that everyone can take the necessary measures and be able to overcome this invisible enemy.”