Just as he stated during his first State of the Government Address yesterday evening, Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi issued today a new executive order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
EO 2021-026 comes into effect Friday, April 9, and will be in force until May 9, subject to amendments. The executive order extends the curfew, bans mass activities without waivers, and narrows operation schedules for businesses.
"Although the vaccination process has been extremely efficient and effective, in recent days there has been an increase in infections and hospitalizations. Studies show that 58 percent of infections are contracted in family activities, so we call on all citizens to continue carrying out, strictly, the precautionary measures imposed in this order," the governor said.
He added: "however, given this rise, it is necessary to take certain measures in order to avoid a further spread. This will allow the recovery of the affected economic sector to continue, while safeguarding the health and safety of the entire population."
The new executive order —which would have initially come into effect next week— broadens the curfew, from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. In addition, it establishes the closure of commercial establishments and restaurants at 9:00 p.m. Occupancy of businesses and restaurants will continue at 50 percent capacity, as long as the six-foot spacing between tables is guaranteed.
More than 1 million vaccines have been administered; 3.2 million population
"I have tried to be prudent and responsible regarding the executive orders that I have issued to deal with this pandemic. My purpose has always been to seek a balance, taking into consideration the economic sector, but above all giving priority to the health of the people. Faced with a rebound in cases as we are seeing, my responsibility is to act immediately. For this reason, in addition to this executive order, we are expanding vaccination for all residents of the island 16 years of age or older," Pierluisi asserted.
The governor added that “this will help us expedite the vaccination of our people and achieve that long-awaited herd immunity. While we make these decisions in the government, it is imperative to ask the people for their cooperation so that they continue to comply with the provisions of this executive order and protect themselves with precautionary measures such as the use of a mask, constant hand washing and physical distancing. It is up to all of us to do our part to end this pandemic."
The order also establishes that theaters may remain open by 30 percent, subject to compliance with protocols, but the opening of arenas, activity centers, discos or bars will not be allowed.
The schools will be governed, as per usual, according to the analysis of community transmission published by the Department of Health. Schools in a municipality with high transmission will not be able to open until the transmission level changes in that municipality.
All Puerto Rico residents 16 or older to be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine
Likewise, the Department of Health, the Department of Public Safety of Puerto Rico, and all its components, including the Puerto Rico Police Bureau, the National Guard and any other pertinent agency, are ordered to carry out those steps necessary to increase the resources, in order to enforce the provisions of the executive order. They must also ensure that quarantine orders related to travelers arriving in Puerto Rico are complied with, as imposed in the bulletin. Likewise, the PCR test requirement for travelers arriving on the island is maintained.
The marinas are kept open, but it is prohibited in this new executive order to glue or tie several boats together. The agglomeration of people on beaches, rivers, spas, marinas, swimming pools and other bodies of water is also prohibited. To this end, the obligation to maintain a distance of no less than 10 feet between bathers who are not from the same family unit is reiterated.
Maritime transportation services for the Vieques and Culebra will continue to operate for residents and people who are going to carry out work arrangements in the municipal islands. Likewise, the opening of maritime transport services for tourists to both islands will continue, unless their respective mayor establishes a different request.
The executive order lists the people and services excluded from the curfew, including gas stations and their distribution chain, but they will not be able to sell alcoholic beverages after 9:00 p.m.