Puerto Rico Gov Orders Businesses Closed This Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Long Supermarket Lines Form Ahead of Weekend When only Pharmacy Drug Counters Can Open
SAN JUAN – The order issued by Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced for all supermarkets and businesses to close operations from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, has caused exactly what the governor said she wanted to avoid.
Early Monday, businesses, especially supermarkets, had long lines of people seeking to stock up on food and other items for the rest of the week.
The decision to close took supermarkets by surprise, said the vice president of the Puerto Rico Chamber of Food Marketing, Industry and Distribution (MIDA by its Spanish acronym), Manuel Reyes.
“For us, it was a surprise. We do not understand why we were not consulted or were not included in the decision process…. That kind of thing [full supermarkets] can be avoided. It has been getting worse; we are causing what we want to avoid and that is that the measures are being considered independently and not how some impact others,” Reyes said in a WKAQ radio interview.
At a press conference after 8 p.m. Sunday, Vázquez Garced announced several amendments to the executive order underway that established a partial daytime lockdown and nighttime curfew. Food-related businesses and financial institutions will be ordered closed during the days celebrated on the island as Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday.
On those days, public roads may only be used to seek emergency medical assistance or essential services, and only the medicine counters in pharmacies and gas stations can open.
She also ordered that people have material covering their faces while inside supermarkets and wearing gloves if possible. A minimum distance of 6 feet must be kept by people when waiting in line to shop as well.
Reyes stressed that “a lot of uncertainty is caused in citizens…. We will be able to continue supplying…. This is a global situation where we are seeing empty [store] shelves in Florida and Texas. All this keeps the distribution chain at its limit and, in that sense, what we need is help. We have done so well that the people and the government expect we will be working and things will always be there. We also need help. The circumstance is not easy.”
Vázquez also recommended that businesses establish hours to serve elderly people.
Reyes said the reduction of open days this week, in addition to the fewer hours open and the number of people who can go to the supermarket a day, along with the disbursement of a large amount of money in advance of Nutritional Assistance Program [PAN] funds “is a recipe to cause what we want to avoid.”
April 15 to May 8 is expected to be the worst period of the outbreak, doctors in the administration’s Covid-19 task force said.
—Cybernews contributed to this report.