Manuel Laboy

Laboy justified that the new executive order does not allow the operation of all businesses, but it does keep the large chains open. >File photo

Faced with the new executive order leading to the partial reopening of various economic sectors amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Puerto Rico government has received more than 600 self-certifications from businesses that say they are ready to operate.

Starting Monday, May 11, construction and manufacturing businesses will be allowed to rejoin the economy, after sectors such as laundries and notary services, among others, opened last Monday, May 5.

In the official program on the pandemic transmitted by WIPR (Channel 6), the secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC by its Spanish acronym), Manuel Laboy, said that the Labor Department has already received certifications from hundreds of companies that claim to be ready to resume operations.

"I have been in contact with the secretary of the Labor Department (Briseida Torres) and she had told me that they received more than 600 self-certifications submitted. This is going to be increasing because from May 11 we are going to open construction and manufacturing," he stated.

He justified that the new executive order—effective until May 25—does not allow the operation of all businesses, but it does keep the large chains open.

"I think it is necessary to clarify that what is allowed is the activity, and there are many small businesses operating in the permitted activities. There are many small businesses selling online, taking calls, and having the opportunity for the customer to go to the store, pick up their merchandise, and leave," Laboy said.

The DDEC secretary reiterated that other sectors of the economy—such as barbershops and hairdressers—may reopen after May 25 if positive cases and deaths from coronavirus do not increase.

"Hair salons will come later, but (laundries) are mostly small businesses and can already operate; the construction sector in the vast majority are small businesses, as is manufacturing. Who sells what is something that DACO (Department of Consumer Affairs) has to regulate," he said.

Employers' Role

Daneris Fernández, a consultant and part of the economic task force of La Fortaleza, said that the reopening of the economy requires employers to guarantee social distancing and the safety of their employees.

"We have published guidelines, tools for employers to assess the elements of risk in their company and establish the plan that will guarantee employees' protection," she said during the televised program.

The P.R. Department of Labor could not be reached for comment.

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