By The Star Staff
The Scientific Coalition said Monday that it recommended that Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia keep the restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 unchanged for at least two more weeks, but the governor ignored the suggestions.
Pierluisi on Friday relaxed restrictions even though a new omicron subvariant, known as BA.2, which is 1.5 times more transmissible than the original omicron strain, has already been identified. Nearly half of U.S. states have confirmed the presence of BA.2, according to stateside media outlets.
“To reduce contagion at the community level, it is important at this time to continue limiting crowds. The Coalition recommends that the restrictions that have been in place until now be maintained, in order to limit social mobility and crowds, especially in closed spaces where the mask is not used,” the group of scientists said Monday in a statement, referring to the measures that were eased in the executive orders issued late last week, and which go into effect Wednesday (see related story on page 5). “It is important that the implementation of these measures be supervised.”
Pierluisi signed three executive orders on Friday that, among other things, make restrictions on hours and capacity limits in shops more flexible. One of the executive orders eliminates the ban on alcohol sales and the restriction of business hours, which had established a closure between midnight and 5 a.m.
The executive order allows restaurants to fill up to 75% of their interior space, while eliminating the capacity limitation for outdoor spaces. Bars can only be filled to 50% of their capacity.
Businesses where customers must wear masks all the time, such as supermarkets, shops and pharmacies, will no longer have capacity restrictions. Theaters and cinemas will have a capacity limitation of 75%. The new measures will be in force until Feb. 16.
Prior to the new executive order, the capacity limit in indoor places where people consume food and drinks was 50%, while in outdoor places it was 75%. All public or private indoor places that serve the public, including government service centers, shopping malls, supermarkets, pharmacies or similar establishments, could only be filled to 75% capacity.
The Scientific Coalition suggests that conservative prevention measures should be maintained until hospitalizations and deaths reach low levels.