Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez signed a new executive order establishing an extended lockdown and curfew period through April 12, escalating the fight to contain the local spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.
The new order, which goes into effect today, confirms who can be on the roads and when, and businesses that may partially open during the emergency.
“The measures we’re taking are to protect citizens from this virus. We have seen how in other countries the proper precautions have not been taken in time, and deaths are already in the thousands,” the governor said.
“To avoid this, the best way is to stay at home. However, if there’s a need for basic goods or services, we’re allowing some businesses to remain open, but always abiding by the security measures and respecting the schedules during which people will be able to transit on public roads,” she said.
Some of the new order’s highlights are:
- A longer curfew for island residents, from 7 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. starting today.
- Hospitals, labs, grocery stores, drugstores, gas stations, banks and restaurants offering drive-through, delivery or pick-up service will remain open as they have since the first executive order went into effect Mar. 15.
- Also on the list of establishments allowed to open are senior care facilities and pawn shops only to accept pawned items and debt payment, not to sell merchandise.
- A new measure included in the order calls for the closing of grocery stores on Sunday, as well as drugstores, except for prescription pick-up windows, and gas stations, except for the pumps.
- A new system will go into effect April 1 to assign days for when people are allowed to be out on the road, according to the last number of their vehicle’s license plate: even numbers, including the zero, and letters are authorized to transit Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Odd numbers are allowed on the road Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
- As an exception, plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other services that are necessary to upkeep health, safety, and essential operation at the individual, residential, commercial, industrial, or public level may work, provided they offer a telephone number or e-mail to be contacted without the need to open a store, keeping in mind health, safety and hygiene aspects. This includes elevator and pool maintenance.
- Likewise, roadside assistance and locksmith companies may operate, only to handle emergency cases, without opening establishments that receive the public. Package delivery and shipping companies may also operate, and telecom companies will be allowed to install, repair, and provide maintenance to critical infrastructure.
- Nonprofits may offer services, under the established conditions.
- Regarding funeral services, bodies may be collected or transferred, embalmed, cremated and buried, but public funerals are not allowed.
- Auto parts and repair shops may open Wednesday and Thursday (9 a.m.-12 p.m.) by appointment only.
- Hardware stores may also open Friday and Saturday (9 a.m.-12 p.m.) by appointment only, without opening to the general public.
- Dental offices will remain closed, unless there’s an emergency.
- The executive order includes a seven-hour window between 5 a.m. and 12 p.m. today, for a maximum of five employees per business responsible for processing payroll payments, to go to their offices to get checks out. Employees encouraged to work remotely will also be afforded the same exception to go to their workplace to pick up necessary materials and equipment.
“Beyond the circumstances described above, a citizen may only leave their residence due to an emergency situation, to work in one of the places allowed in this order, as long as they can prove it, or perform one of the services allowed in this order,” the governor said.
Violation of the provisions in the order carry penalties of up to six months in jail or of up to $5,000 or both, at the discretion of the court.