González: Feds will oppose governor on compulsory COVID-19 test results for air travelers

By The Star Staff

Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón said Thursday that Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced’s desire to see that travelers arriving in Puerto Rico hand in negative COVID-19 tests is going to collide with federal government public policy.

“The issue of passenger entry and movement is an interstate commerce one,” the resident commissioner said at a press conference. “The governor stated that they are evaluating restricting entry to Puerto Rico and I trust that this will be studied by the local Justice Department.”

González Colón gave the example of the state of Hawaii, which made a deter- mination similar to that proposed by the governor, but the U.S. Justice Department let it be known that it will challenge that action.

“So it is up to the [Puerto Rico] Department of Justice to make that evaluation and give its input to the governor, so that when the determination is made, it can be done based on what is right in law,” the resident commissioner said.

González Colon noted that the possibility has been raised in the Transportation Committee of the U.S. House of Repre- sentatives that the airlines may require passengers to show evidence of a negative result from a COVID-19 test before being allowed to enter an airplane.

“In other words, this is a matter of legislative discussion today in Congress, regarding security measures for planes, cruises and [other] ships,” she said. “So Congress is going to be taking action on this. There is still no bill; it emerged in a public hearing as one of the alternatives.”

At a press conference Wednesday in Dorado, the governor insisted that it was her wish to include the evidence requirement in the next executive order related to the coronavirus pandemic emergency, but she needs the opinion of her advisory groups.

On Thursday, Vázquez was supposed to release the contents of the new execu- tive order, but it was announced that the release will be on a different date.

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