Restaurants association wants next executive order to allow dining rooms to open Sundays
By John McPhaul
Given the expiration of the current Executive Order (EO 2020-062) containing measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus on the island, Puerto Rico Restaurant Association (ASORE by its Spanish acronym) Executive Director Gadiel Lebrón said Tuesday that ASORE in recent days sent a letter to Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced with a series of recommendations regarding the operation of restaurants and their measures to control the virus.
“We sent a letter to the governor where we pledge to continue with the strict protocol that we have implemented since the beginning of this pandemic that has allowed restaurants to operate without putting the health of their employees and customers at risk,” Lebrón said in a written statement. “Likewise, we suggest some alternatives for allowing restaurants to operate with a little more flexibility, but maintaining control within the situation we are facing.”
Among the requests sent to the governor is the opening of the dining rooms on Sundays and that the sale and consumption of alcohol be allowed inside restaurants seven days a week until the allowed closing time, but only for those customers who are consuming food inside restaurants.
“We believe that customers who are already inside restaurants consuming their food and beverages can continue to do so until the closing time … because they are in a controlled environment, without crowds and taking all precautionary measures, according to the established protocol in the industry,” the ASORE executive director said. “However, consumption outside the premises must continue to be prohibited to prevent crowds and, consequently, the spread of the virus.”
The letter notes that according to a report from the Municipal Case Investigation and Contact Tracking System distributed by the island Department of Health earlier this month, 57 percent of the outbreaks that are occurring in Puerto Rico’s municipalities are through family parties, birthdays and wakes.
Another of the arguments raised in the letter is the importance of offering financial assistance to the restaurant industry to avoid the closure of many restaurants due to the reduction in sales and expenses that have resulted from th pandemic.
“As an association, we have continuously guided our partners, and the industry in general, on the measures necessary for the operation of restaurants in the midst of this pandemic. We have witnessed the great efforts that restaurants are making to maintain their operations,” Lebrón said in his letter. “That is why it is vitally important that the government offer the necessary financial support to help the stability of the industry. Sales revenue is down, but costs aren’t. This, consequently, will continue to cause the sustained closure of businesses and the loss of jobs.”
According to the survey conducted by ASORE, sales of more than half of those surveyed have fallen by over 30 percent since the pandemic began. Also, as of the end of August, 34 percent were covering their costs, but without making a profit, and 62 percent were experiencing losses in their businesses. If they continue with the restrictions in force, 40 percent responded that they would be forced to reduce their staffs.