Puerto Rico Governor Announces Curfew Amid Outbreak
SAN JUAN — Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced announced Sunday morning stricter measures that the government will be implementing after an additional novel coronavirus case was confirmed Saturday night on the island amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The governor ordered the closure of non-essential businesses—which excludes supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations, banks and those related to food distribution—at 6 p.m. Sunday for two weeks, to ensure people distance themselves and curb the spread of the virus.
The order includes movie theaters and shopping malls. In addition, a curfew, from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., has been put in effect until March 30.
The governor had already announced the closure of cruiseship piers starting Sunday as well as of public schools. Most private schools and universities have also closed their facilities for 15 days.
“On March 12, I declared a state of emergency, because of the situation that Puerto Rico and the world are facing amid the coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak” Vázquez said. “Since then we have called on the citizenry to maintain social distancing to avoid the contagion in the wake of the first confirmed positive cases in Puerto Rico.”
Vázquez said that since the response had not been an “adequate one” amid the emergency, “our priority is the health and to protect the lives of all who live on this island.”
“I am announcing that starting today, Sunday, at 6 p.m our government will implement stricter control measures and social distancing to avoid contagion of this virus,” she said. “We are ordering, through an executive order, the partial closing of all businesses, with the exception of those dedicated to the sale of food and the wholesale distribution of medical equipment, pharmacies, supermarkets, gas stations, banking or financial institutions and those related to the chain of distribution of food, medicines, medical articles and gas.”
The order to close down businesses applies to commercial centers, movie and other theaters, concert halls, gyms, casinos and businesses that sell alcohol and other places where people gather.
“In the case of private medical offices, health professionals should ensure that they manage the preventive care of their patients. Likewise, I have ordered a curfew for all residents in Puerto Rico. The curfew will begin at 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. and will extend through March 30,” Vázquez stressed.
People authorized for work or emergency cases are excluded from the curfew.
Amid the possibility of the transmission or spread of the virus, even among people who don’t have symptoms, we have to take all the precautions so that we don’t become potential carriers. If as a people we want to control the epidemic, we have to take overwhelming measures, as has occurred in other countries,” whose developments the governor said were “sufficient” to determine that if action was not taken “today, the consequences will be severe tomorrow.”
Saying her administration was aware the order “we are taking will have collateral effects on our economy,” she assured a “balance must be established” nonetheless with “the aim that our population is protected.”
Vázquez thanked the private sector and hospital organizations, with which “productive meetings were held,” for their solidarity.
“We are working hand in hand to surpass this crisis and I am sure that with everyone’s cooperation, working together we will surpass this,” the governor said. “All citizens must remain in their homes, and that way contribute to avoid the spread of this virus. That is everyone’s responsibility.”
So far, there are 17 suspect and four confirmed cases of the disease. The latest is an 87-year-old man from California who was aboard a cruiseship that was passing through the Mona Canal and was transported to the Mayagüez Medical Center Hospital.
On Friday, results confirming infection were received for a 71-year-old man hospitalized in San Juan; and for a 68-year-old resident of Italy and her 70-year-old husband, who were on the Costa Luminosa cruiseship.
Test results for five additional people are still pending.
“We will continue to establish the measures we have taken so far to prevent the spread of this virus, and we will implement even more restrictive and severe measures to ensure the health of our people. The priority right now is the well-being of all citizens who live on this island,” Vázaquez had said in a statement Saturday.
The governor made Sunday’s announcement in a message broadcast through WIPR Channel 6 and La Fortaleza’s Facebook page.
See the governor’s message here: www.facebook.com/fortalezaproficial
—CB Editorial Manager Yanira Hérnandez Cabiya contributed to this report.