Puerto Rico Treasury Cracking Down On Establishments Violating Lockdown Order
Suspends Alcohol License of Businesses in Caguas, Bayamón, San Juan
SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Treasury Department is cracking down on commercial establishments that are violating the government’s lockdown order mandating the closing of non-essential businesses that encourage gatherings such as bars and pubs to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Treasury Secretary Francisco Parés Alicea said in a press release that as of Friday his agency had suspended the internal revenue alcoholic beverage licenses of establishments in Caguas, Bayamón and San Juan for opening their doors to patrons, in violation of Gov. Wanda Vázquez’s March 15 and March 30 executive orders establishing a curfew/lockdown on the island.
Executive Order 2020-23, issued March 15, implemented a curfew/lockdown order lasting until March 30, when the governor issued Executive Order 2020-29 to extend the novel coronavirus emergency measures through April 12.
Treasury suspended on Friday the liquor licenses of Colmado Delicias Inc. on Georgetti Street in Caguas, and of Cafetín Puntito 22, in Urbanización Valencia Z32, Ave. Orquídea of Bayamón. On March 24, the agency suspended the license of Prime Sport Bar in San Juan’s Condado community.
Parés said that the agency had sent suspension notices to these businesses before making the determinations final. In the case of Prime Sport Bar, the agency also confiscated the establishment’s alcoholic beverages after it continued operating despite the suspension order.
“We regret that despite the work and orientation that the different components of the government and the private sector are doing to control the Covid-19 epidemic, some irresponsible people insist on violating orders prohibiting the operation of businesses that encourage the meeting of citizens,” he said. “These people are jeopardizing the health of those who visit their businesses, their family members and themselves. Worse yet, their actions set back the advances in the efforts against infection that are carried out every day.”
Parés called on the public to report businesses that violate the curfew/lockdown through “Suri Confidencia” at Treasury’s online internal revenue system (SURI by its Spanish acronym) or website (www.suri.hacienda.pr.gov), or through the agency’s social media. He said that Section 6023.03 of the 2011 Internal Revenue Code, as amended, confers upon the Treasury secretary the power to revoke or suspend alcoholic beverage licenses in possession of business owners who “violate established regulations and norms established by the Secretary or [for] any other reasonable or justifiable cause after hearing out the person concerned.”
Executive Order 2020-29, which establishes a 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, mandates the closure of shopping centers, movie theaters, dance clubs, concert halls, theaters, game rooms, casinos, theme parks, gymnasiums, bars or any similar place or event where people could gather.
The Treasury internal revenue license suspension is for a six-month period, according to internal revenue regulations, which add that any suspension, as well as any related summons, will be notified through SURI. Any business owner who receives a notice of suspension may request a reconsideration hearing by filing, through SURI, an administrative complaint with the Treasury Department’s Office of Administrative Appeals within 30 days after the date of the suspension notice, according to the Uniform Administrative Procedure Act of 2017 (Act 38).
Since the curfew/lockdown was implemented March 15, Treasury personnel have inspected 9,055 commercial establishments as of Thursday, Parés said.
“We have 300 Internal Revenue agents on the streets and we will not hesitate to continue suspending licenses. This is about saving lives…,” the official said, adding that his department is no longer giving out warnings and is now suspending licenses on the first offense.