DNER announces changes in public beach hours

By John McPhaul

Natural and Environmental Resources Secretary Rafael Machargo Maldonado on Sunday announced changes in the summer hours of operation for the public beaches known locally as “balnearios” assigned to the Puerto Rico National Parks Program.

“Starting Wednesday, July 1, 2020, on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, “the balnearios will be open to the general public from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., while on Saturdays and Sundays they will open from 9:30 in the morning to 6 in the afternoon,” Machargo Maldonado said in a written statement. “This schedule is exclusive for balnearios and will be valid until August 30, 2020.”

He said the balnearios will be closed to the public Monday and Tuesday, when maintenance, cleaning and disinfection work is carried out.

“We reiterate the need to protect such important resources, which is why we make an emphatic call to the users of and visitors to the beaches, parks and recreational areas to enjoy them without leaving a trace,” Machargo Maldonado said. “This means leaving no garbage or debris such as masks or gloves. Our natural resources are very precious and unique. It is our responsibility, as citizens, to protect and maintain them for this and future generations.”

Once at a public beach, visitors must follow Health Department safety instructions and continue to maintain physical distance to avoid infection with COVID-19.

The balnearios that will be open to the public are the following: Boquerón in Cabo Rojo, Caña Gorda in Guánica, Cerro Gordo in Vega Alta, La Monserrate in Luquillo, Manuel “Nolo” Morales in Dorado, Punta Salinas in Toa Baja, Seven Seas in Fajardo and Sun Bay in Vieques.

Three San Juan metro area national parks -- Isla de Cabras in Toa Baja, Julio Enrique Monagas in Bayamón and Luis Muñoz Rivera in San Juan -- will continue with the established schedule,” the DNER chief said.

As provided in the governor’s pandemic emergency executive order, all parks and balnearios open to the public will be operating at 50 percent capacity.

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