Governor reverses reopening amid increase in COVID-19 cases
Malls and churches saved, left out of new executive order
By Pedro Correa Henry
Special to The Star
After medical experts and academics presented in atypical fashion a growing trend of positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Puerto Rico, Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced on Thursday announced new restrictions in the new executive order to stop the spread of the coronavirus that causes the potentially lethal disease.
According to scientific data shown during the governor’s message, although it proved that during the first lockdown cases were kept under 1 percent, mathematical models indicated a sustained weekly increase in cases after the reopening, with the number of positive molecular test results per week rising to 1,332 by the third week of June.
“The data shown by medical experts proves that measures taken in the month of March produced results and saved the lives of Puerto Rican citizens,” Vázquez said. “However, as scientists have proved that there has been a spike in [positive COVID-19] cases, I have determined to order the following restrictions in order to protect the health and lives of my citizens.”
The governor determined the following rules that will go into force on today and continue to July 31:
* Curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. is maintained
* The sale of alcoholic beverages in all authorized businesses is forbidden after 7 p.m.
* Bars will not be operating
* Gatherings of people outside establishments will not be permitted
* Restaurants will only use 50 percent of seating capacity
* Waiting lines outside businesses will not be permitted; citizens must wait inside cars
* Only individual sports and recreational training are permitted
* Competitive activities are prohibited
* Beaches will be closed to everyone except runners, surfers and water sports athletes
* Coolers and beach chairs are not permitted on beaches
* Common-use pools are not permitted
* Excursion sites will be closed
* Theaters, casinos, movie theaters, gyms and recreation centers will be closed
* Marine ports will shut down, while the use of boats and jet skis is prohibited
* Transportation for island municipalities such as Vieques and Culebra will be available only for residents
* The opening of tourism has been postponed until Aug. 15; it is recommended that travelers arrive in Puerto Rico only for essential trips.
The updated order also postpones family visits to elderly homes and prisons, while the governor assigned $100 million to all municipalities for the second round of aid and $150 million for hospitals to reinforce their services.
The governor called on citizens under the age of 30 to comply with safety measures, such as the use of face masks and sanitization procedures, although one of the graphics presented by the scientific panel showed that people ages 30 to 59 make up the group with the highest rate of coronavirus infection.
“The COVID disease has not gone away, the COVID disease is still with us; it is living together with every citizen,” the governor said. “We must fight this invisible enemy together. We must cooperate.”
Although the new executive order contains numerous limitations, the governor