Retailers Association: Executive order will cause business closures, job losses
SAN JUAN — Before Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez issued her new executive order, which includes a 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, weekend lockdown and business operating at 30 percent capacity, the president of the Puerto Rico United Retailers Association (CUD by its Spanish initials), Jesús Vázquez, warned that were the new order to have included a total closure, 25 percent of small and midsize businesses would shutter and 50% of jobs would have been lost, especially in restaurants, which have been greatly affected.
“We are surprised that we were never taken into consideration at any time. We are the most important organization in the country, representing the largest commercial sector and we have never been asked our opinion. It intrigues me to know where the recommendations they make to the Governor come from. Businesses that are not complying with executive orders, those that do not close at the established hours, as well as those that allow people outside their establishment to drink without the use of a mask, should be punished, because they threaten the health of the people,” the trade group representative said in a media release.
“The police must begin to carry out their duties and apply the full weight of the law to the irresponsible people who have caused Puerto Rican commerce to be punished. Being the leader of the largest and longest-standing organization in the country, I only feel pain thinking about how the Puerto Rican economy is destroyed, and that the most affected are small and medium-sized businesses,” he stressed.
The CUD president said total closure order, or lockdown, would end an economy that is currently depressed and has not yet been able to recover from the hurricanes of 2017.
He also assured that, in 2021, bankruptcies will skyrocket and the government will be rendered inoperative because its finances will be greatly affected. In addition, he said that so far in 2020, more than $1.1 billion has been lost in the small and medium-sized business sector, and could reach $2 billion in losses by the end of the year.
“This represents a hit to the government of over $500 million in different government obligations and a direct impact on over 30,000 jobs that will be lost,” he said, while pointing out that studies show that the virus isn’t spread at business, but rather in family gatherings and mass events.
“They do not understand why the group of businessmen is discriminated against, who have already undergone a real way of the cross in this pandemic,” he said.
The CUD president will request a meeting with the governor and the Health Secretary Lorenzo González to listen to the recommendations of the 5,000 members, who represent 15,000 businesses.