Governor Says She Will Soon Announce Reactivation of Puerto Rican Economy
Construction, Manufacturing Among First Sectors to Resume with Strict Safety Measures
SAN JUAN — Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced anticipated Tuesday on Twitter that, in the coming days, she will present the plan to reopen some sectors of the economy, which according to the secretary of Economic Development and Commerce, Manuel Laboy, should be construction and manufacturing.
“I am confident that in the next few days we will present a responsible plan to start some economic activities. Always counting on the advisory counsel of the medical team, a key piece to protect the life and health of our people,” Vázquez Garced tweeted.
In an interview with Caribbean Business, Laboy explained that both construction and manufacturing are areas of the economy that are used to operating with strict control and security measures such as those that will be necessary for this first phase of thawing economic activity.
“They are the best-prepared sectors to start activating in the coming weeks. The analysis that has been carried out makes risk assessments of one sector versus another. In Puerto Rico, there are sectors such as construction and manufacturing that are in a position to open little by little because they are used to working under very strict regulations,” Laboy insisted.
Likewise, he stressed that shopping centers, cinemas, bars and other entertainment businesses will have to wait due “to the nature” of that activity. “I don’t see them being among the first,” Laboy said.
Since the end of last week, the government has begun preparing to announce the gradual and controlled restart of the island’s economic activity after six weeks of being on lockdown as well as an evening curfew seven days a week to control the spread of Covid-19.
However, Laboy stressed that the decision about which economic and commercial activity will resume and when “belongs to the governor.”
“I can tell you that this week is an important one” to ensure that companies are aware of the requirements of the federal guidelines to resume activity in a cautious and orderly manner, the secretary said.
According to the recommendations of the White House, in the first phase, schools will remain closed and visits to nursing homes and hospitals prohibited. Businesses such as restaurants will be allowed to open but with limitations and observing physical distance norms.
In the second phase, non-essential travel would be authorized, the ban on gatherings of more than 50 people is kept, as well as the isolation of the vulnerable population.
In phase three, the non-vulnerable population must minimize time in public places at all times while maintaining prudent physical distance, bars may operate in a limited basis, and gyms may reopen with normal measures.
Laboy admitted that as a result of the most recent executive order in which the curfew and lockdown is made more flexible, some companies have begun to operate, following the parameters set forth in that order. Such is the case of those businesses or stores that can provide home deliveries or to a customer’s vehicle.
He added that the order allows activity in the construction sector for specific health infrastructure, maintenance and repair projects.