Sunday, July 5, 2020

‘We love you very much, but now is not the time to visit the island-municipalities,’ Vieques Mayor says

By on June 17, 2020

SAN JUAN – The mayor of Vieques, Víctor Emeric, said on Tuesday that the island-municipality, where not a single case of COVID-19 has been reported, is not yet ready to receive tourists due to the matter of reduced vessel capacity when abiding by the social distancing measures.

“We love them very much, but please, I do not think it is time to come to the island-municipalities, at least to Vieques,” Emeric said in a radio interview (NotiUno).

The Viequense mayor questioned the remarks of the secretary of the Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTOP), Carlos Contreras, that they will allow the general entry of passengers on the vessels.

“How are they going to get to Vieques, when right now there are no boats for Viequenses, especially with the capacity restrictions due to the distancing issue. Now Cayo Blanco, which is the main vessel, has broken down. [Monday] was chaos in the morning because Cayo Blanco could not depart. They are allowing 200 passengers when it’s [usually] 600,” he said.

He explained that other vessels are offering trips with less passenger capacity, and several dozen Viequenses were left stranded.

“I ask the secretary of DTOP, how are they going to allow passengers in general when the residents of the island-municipalities, at least of Vieques, do not fit in the boat and people are constantly left stranded? The distancing [measure] is law. Do not come and tell us that you are going to put all of us crowded into the boat,” he said, while urging the public not to go to Ceiba to take the ferry because there is no capacity.

He also said he would meet Tuesday with the director of the Maritime Transport Authority (ATM), Mara Pérez.

“Because of this concern, I believe that…tourism must be postponed until this thing about the boats is fixed. First, because they are going to send us crowded together and the law does not allow it and in Vieques there are zero cases; the other thing is that what can happen, as happens even with vessels at capacity, is the tourists are boarded and those from Vieques are left stranded, and that is not the idea because this is a service especially for residents of the island-municipalities. Us and our health comes first,” he insisted.

Emeric also said in the interview that Sun Bay beach opens Wednesday, according to the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DRNA).

He added that Red Beach, Caracas beach, Blue Beach and others of the Wildlife Refuge remain closed. La Esperanza, El Gallito, La Ceiba and El Rompeolas beaches are open. However, the bioluminescent bay is still closed.