Governor announces changes to pandemic emergency EO, again

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia announced Thursday an amendment with new changes to the current executive order (EO) to address the COVID-19 pandemic in Puerto Rico after accepting recommendations from the Scientific Coalition.

The changes to the EO will go into effect this Saturday, April 17, and will be in effect until May 9.

EO 2021-027 maintains the 10 p.m. curfew time until 5 a.m. and the closing of commercial establishments and restaurants at 9 p.m. Excluded from the curfew are people who are attending emergency or health situations, including those who administer vaccines, those who at any time leave their home to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and those who accompany a person to be vaccinated, among others.

A greater restriction is established in terms of occupation in shops and restaurants. Private operations that serve the public in closed mode establishments may only operate with a maximum capacity of 30 percent. This applies to restaurants; retail businesses; medical offices; funeral services; recreational and sports activities, including horse riding; film screenings; financial, community, consumer, professional and non-professional services; colleges and post-secondary educational activities; care centers; religious activities; and government agencies.

In the case of restaurants, the minimum required distance of six feet between tables must be guaranteed. Closed format shopping centers, meanwhile, will limit their capacity at the rate of one person for every 75 square feet in the aisles. With regard to private operations such as administrative offices that do not serve the public, they must also operate at 30 percent capacity or guaranteeing the minimum physical distance of six feet between employees.

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico government agencies will continue with their work plans to provide their services to the public, observing the measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including guaranteeing a distance between employees of a minimum of six feet. Remote work will continue to be considered a viable option, as determined by the head of each agency.

Also prohibited are mass activities in which there is no dispensation from the La Fortaleza chief of staff, which may impose that participants have a negative result for COVID-19 from a qualified SARS-Cov2 viral test and antigen testing performed 72 hours in advance.

Similarly, crowding on beaches, rivers, marinas and swimming pools, and the opening of coliseums, discotheques, activity centers or bars, among other venues, is not allowed. At island marinas it is prohibited to tie several boats together, as well as to anchor on beaches, keys and islets less than 200 feet from the shore.

“In the past few days we have seen an upturn in COVID-19 infections so, as I have indicated, we are reinforcing the integrated strategy against the pandemic,” the governor said.

“Vaccination continues to be key to ending this virus that affects us and the Department of Health continues the vaccination process without pause, impacting all sectors of Puerto Rico.

In fact, as established by the [Scientific] Coalition, deaths from cases have decreased by half since vaccinations began and at least 300 lives have been saved.”

Pierluisi added that Health Secretary-designate Carlos Mellado López has already established agreements with the laboratories of several universities, to which the reagents will be provided and they will carry out genomic sequence studies of the cases of COVID-19 virus variants. In addition, tests are being increased throughout the island, both antigen and molecular. Likewise, the number of agents is doubling to support the Department of Health Investigative Unit, which oversees compliance with the new EO. In addition, the police presence through public places will also continue to ensure compliance with the EO and its greater restrictions. Educational campaigns are expanding, meanwhile.

“We continue to seek the cooperation of everyone so that they maintain prevention and precautionary measures such as avoiding crowds, the use of a mask, physical distancing and hand washing,” the governor said. “The government is doing its part to have an integrated strategy against this virus, but we need everyone to do their part and not lower their guard.”

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