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Puerto Rico Gov’t Requests FAA to Stop Flights From COVID-19 ‘Hotspots’ Stateside

By on April 8, 2020

Acting Puerto Rico Ports Director Joel A. Pizá Batiz said the island is at the forefront of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19. (Screen capture of WIPR)

Ban would apply to flights from New York, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Illinois

SAN JUAN – Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced announced Wednesday that the government of Puerto Rico issued a formal request to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that it prohibit flights from areas considered “hot spots” due to the high prevalence of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.

“Previously, we requested from the FAA and were granted that all flights arrive in Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport so that the National Guard can screen every passenger arriving in Puerto Rico. Now we want people from the areas most affected by COVID-19 not to arrive. This is among the measures necessary to prevent this virus from spreading and affecting the health of the people of Puerto Rico,” Vázquez said in a statement.

The ban requested would apply to flights from New York, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Illinois.

As the interim executive director of the Ports Authority, Joel A. Pizá Batiz, explained, the FAA released new guidelines on how airports can combat the COVID-19 threat. In that document, there are multiple courses of action, such as the one the governor requested and was granted last month, and other courses of action.

“One of those more rigorous alternatives is to request that flights from areas with a higher prevalence of COVID-19, or hot spots cannot land at the requesting airports. I am convinced that the previous request made by Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced on March 21, 2020, along with the calls by other governors and mayors of the nation last week, has led to the promulgation of this document by the FAA,” Pizá said.

Under the new guidelines, “since the FAA is also trying to adjust its courses of action because the situation with COVID-19 is so variable,” Pizá Batiz stressed, the Vázquez administration’s press release says, “the government has asked the federal regulator to allow it to reschedule flights from the most affected areas in the United States until after the peak of the pandemic in the states with greater prominence to the deadly virus.”

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