Governor Meets With Economic, Medical Task Forces

Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez amended Executive Order 2020-054 so that next Sunday, July 26, all businesses remain closed, except drugstores, supermarkets, gas stations, and restaurants, with an added ban alcoholic beverage sales.

"As I said this morning, we have seen a lack of control on the weekends, especially Sundays, when many people forget that we are still facing the emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. At times when there is an increase in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, we have determined to take stricter measures, for the time being, this Sunday," the governor stated.

She held a meeting with members of the economic and health task forces, the secretaries of Health and Economic Development, and members of the private sector, all of whom reportedly agreed on the upcoming closures.

Vázquez said that restaurants' dining areas will also remain closed and that food establishments may only offer their products through delivery, drive-thru or carry-out. Meanwhile, superstores may only open their supermarket and pharmacy areas.

Places of worship may continue offering religious services, ensuring health protocols to prevent the spread of the virus.

Vázquez clarified that the executive order will remain in effect the rest of the week and until its expiration, July 31. The measures contained include a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and a dry law from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.

"Next Tuesday, we will all convene again to evaluate if people complied or not with the executive order over the weekend. Once analyzed, we will determine if it is necessary to close again Sunday, August 2. This is a cautionary measure to stop the curve of contagion and continue making adjustments," she said, adding that private associations will deliver the message to their members.

"We are aligned with the decisions of Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced in favor of the health of Puerto Ricans. Our support is total, because these actions are supported with scientific information. We continue to exercise our work to protect health above all else," said Health Secretary Lorenzo González.

Medical task force spokesperson Segundo Rodríguez stated, "both members of the medical and economic sectors met and reached a consensus on the need to take control of this pandemic, taking measures that mitigate against our way of life, but the sacrifice and actions we take today will bring positive results, and I am they will surely contribute to our mission of saving lives.”

Moreover, Economic Development Secretary Manuel A. Laboy said, "we appreciate the commitment and openness of the private sector to collaborate with the government of Puerto Rico to continue facing this crisis of COVID-19, something unprecedented, and which has certainly reflected an economic impact, but the only way to stop it is by working together."

Meanwhile, the president of the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce, Juan Carlos Agosto, remarked on the pandemic's economic toll, particularly in jobs, but affirmed that the new measure offers a balance between maintaining some businesses operational and safeguarding public health.

However, economists had previously warned that the island would not be able to withstand further economic closures, which the governor omitted when enacting the most recent executive order concerning COVID-19 and businesses.

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