DACO relaxes measures at condos amid COVID emergency

DACO secretary-designate Edan Rivera Rodríguez

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @pete_r_correa

Special to The Star

Consumer Affairs (DACO by its Spanish acronym) secretary-designate Edan Rivera Rodríguez signed Order 2021-001 on Sunday with the purpose of relaxing regulations and measures at island condominiums amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through a press release, Rivera Rodríguez said the order establishes new mechanisms that seek to establish a “reopening and coexistence protocol” under the Horizontal Property Regime in keeping with Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia’s executive order to tackle the effects of the coronavirus and “to maintain a balance among every sector.”

“We urge all citizens to continue to respect health measures to prevent the spread of the virus,” Rivera Rodríguez said during his announcement that the order would go into effect today.

Among the new measures established by DACO is a prohibition on the suspension of services for nonpayment of potable water and electricity bills in an apartment that constitutes the principal residence of an owner or resident.

Aside from that, the designated secretary authorized condo residents to hold face-to-face meetings under limited conditions.

“The activity should be scheduled to take place in an open space large enough so that all entitled voting cardholders can attend while respecting the physical distancing and safety protocols implemented by the Puerto Rico Health Department,” Rivera Rodríguez said.

However, he stressed that space may not be used for social purposes and virtual meetings should be considered as the first option.

As for common areas for recreational purposes, such as parks, swimming pools, basketball courts and gymnasiums, the new order allows their opening and use following the approved precautionary health and hygiene measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

Swimming pools and gyms, meanwhile, may be used at up to 50 percent of their maximum capacity, within the hours allowed for private operations, and the consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited.

In the case of gymnasiums, their opening is conditional upon adequate supervision being in place to ensure compliance with the guidelines. Clubhouses will remain closed.

Rivera Rodríguez noted that the boards of directors of each condominium must issue and post, clearly and adequately, the guidelines to be followed by property owners for the use of common recreational areas.

Such guidelines must be consistent with the provisions of EO-2021-014, as well as with the guidelines issued by the island Recreation and Sports Department through an agency memo.