Saturday, September 19, 2020

More Puerto Rico sectors allowed to reopen after Memorial Day

By on May 21, 2020

Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced (Courtesy)

 
SAN JUAN — Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced announced Thursday a new executive order that will make business operations, sports activities and worship services more flexible starting Tuesday, May 26.

Claiming that the measures taken so far have flattened the curve of hospitalizations related to COVID-19, Vázquez Garced said, that “today we make a great decision in this new executive order to safeguard the health of our citizens while taking into consideration the reopening of businesses.”

“It has been a decision made in consensus and with the data. In this new executive order, maintain the social distance that corresponds to all of us. Now that we are going to start some economic activities, it will be mandatory for all citizens to wear their mask or cover their mouth and nose at all times,” she said.

The new executive order that will go in effect May 26 will run through June 15, and keeps the 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.

Among the activities that being relaxed are indoor dining at restaurants, which will be limited to 25 percent occupancy at each respective location, while delivery services may be provided until midnight.

“Restaurants are allowed to work after the curfew,” she said.

Barbershops and beauty salons may reopen Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but only by appointment. However, she emphasized that there should be no one in waiting rooms and stylists and customers must wear face coverings at all times.

In fact, the governor was emphatic that it will be mandatory that everyone cover their mouth and nose at all times, despite the fact she does not do so in her public appearances.

She mentioned that all sectors that resume operations in this new phase must also submit a self-certification to the Department of Labor and Human Resources.

At this phase, retail stores such as shops and hardware stores may open to the public starting Tuesday. However, establishments at shopping malls may only begin to educate employes on the reopening protocols and to prepare stores.

Clothing and shoe stores will not be able to allow customers to try on merchandise, so the governor requested that more flexible return policies be established.

The order establishes that stores may only admit 50 percent of their capacity. In shopping malls, only one person per 100 square feet will be allowed.

Meanwhile, auto dealerships will be able to open, but only by appointment, as will car washes. Also, pet groomers are allowed to reopen.

Funerals can only be attended by 10 people one or two hours before the funeral or crematorium.

Academic research laboratories can resume their work and private schools are authorized to open to coordinate virtual summer camps.

As for real estate, agents will be able to resume work but only visit unoccupied property units.

“The virtual system is recommended, but if the client wants to see the property, they must use protection,” the governor said.

Meanwhile, gun shops will be able to open under the same restrictions and shooting ranges will be able to operate.

Beaches reopened

The order will allow beaches to be used for exercise, as well as golf courses.

“The Department of Recreation and Sports will issue guidelines,” said the governor, adding that public beaches may not yet be used for day, outings” and insisting that at this phase people’s cooperation will be essential.

Gyms and running tracks will remain closed.

Regarding navigation and fishing, Vázquez said the Department of Natural Resources will prepare guidelines. However, boating will be allowed as recreation in this first phase but only “from marina to marina.” It will not be possible to anchor at beaches or hold group activities on the vessels. In addition, boats must maintain a distance of 15 feet.

The Electronic Lottery will begin to be sold again; however, the Traditional Lottery will not.

Horse-racing can resume, but people cannot attend the races.

In the entertainment area, virtual concerts and plays were authorized.

As for the government, Vázquez Garced said government employees who work at human resources, finance, budgeting and procurement departments begin work June 1.

“Employees who cannot start and the situation is justified by law, it may be deducted” from their leave days, she said.

She warned private employees who are receiving unemployment insurance that if they are called back to work they will no longer be entitled to unemployment benefits and federal aid.

“If you do not return to work and made the decision not to return to work, you will not be able to have unemployment benefits,” Vázquez Garced said.

“We have flattened the curve so far, we have handed the country to the people with COVID controlled. It depends on each of us,” the governor said.

Dr. Juan Carlos Reyes, director of the Department of Statistics and Epidemiology of the University of Puerto Rico’s Medical Sciences Campus and member of the government administration’s Medical Task Force acknowledged to Caribbean Business that “based on the data reported by [the Department of] Health, which every day presents fewer PCR or molecular tests administered, we can see that the cases double every 5.5 days, which tells us that we have improved, but we are not yet ready to continue opening economic sectors that amass groups of employees and customers in poorly ventilated places with little physical distance.”

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