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Public event cancellations steady as COVID-19 concerns grow

A steady string of event cancellations and postponements have been the order of the day in Puerto Rico, as concerns grow over the potential spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Although there have been no confirmed cases yet, there are at least a dozen patients showing possible symptoms of COVID-19 in Puerto Rico. As a result, many private companies and members of the academic community have modified their routines to prevent contagion.

One of the major announcements on Thursday came from the yet-to-open Coca-Cola Music Hall at the Distrito T-Mobile in San Juan, where the first six concerts on the agenda have been postponed.

ASM Global, the company that manages the Coca-Cola Music Hall, announced the postponement of the grand opening and all the events that were scheduled to take place in the space during the month of March.

The determination responds to the recent call by government authorities to limit the holding of events involving mass congregation of people, as a measure to reduce possible exposure or contagion with the novel virus COVID-19, executives said.

“Although we’re ready to formally start our operations and the schedule of activities that were already confirmed for next week, we consider it a priority to do everything in our power to protect the health of the public,” said Jorge Pérez, general manager of the Coca-Cola Music Hall.

“Given this, we will respond to the governor’s call to postpone our events and thus reduce the possibility of contagion and spread of this virus. We are already in talks with the producers and we will promptly communicate new dates and instructions for those who have purchased tickets,” he said.

The postponed events are:

  • Mar. 20 – Ednita Nazario
  • Mar. 21 – Jorge Drexler
  • Mar. 22 – Attention Attention
  • Mar. 26 – Il Divo
  • Mar. 28 – Rauw Alejandro

Coca-Cola Music Hall ticket provider Ticketpop will accommodate the necessary changes and provide more information on new dates and ticket policies, he said.

Retailers implement prevention protocols
Meanwhile, Grupo Colón-Gerena, which operates 116 Wendy’s, Sizzler, Longhorn, Applebee’s, Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants in Puerto Rico, confirmed it has implemented COVID-19 prevention protocols at all of its establishments.

GCG Operations CEO Mike Snoddy said protocol measures include implementing the recommendations of the Center for Infectious Diseases and those recommended by both the local and federal governments.

“Although no coronavirus cases have yet been confirmed on the island, we’re not going to wait for it. Our priority is our guests and employees, to protect them through ongoing prevention,” said Snoddy.

Among the measures that are being implemented in the restaurants, is the additional installation of disinfecting gel stations for both the use of customers and service staff, at the entrances, food waiting, delivery and order areas, constant and frequent disinfection of menus, bathroom facilities and dining areas.

Disinfection measures have also been reinforced in the operational areas of restaurants, storage facilities, offices and administrative offices; and the company has prepared posters for personal prevention and food handling with regulations that include from frequently washing hands, sneezing or coughing, covering with the forearm and not going to work if sick.

Local grocery store chain SuperMax has also announced preventive measures at its 17 locations, which employ 2,205 people.

Local grocery store chain SuperMax has also announced preventive measures at its 17 locations, which employ 2,205 people.

The protocol includes measures such as more frequent disinfection of service areas, which include: counters, cash registers and dining rooms; as well as frequently used areas such as bathrooms, elevators and water fountains.

Additionally, SuperMax President José Revuelta said the chain has staff constantly disinfecting carts and baskets. These precautions also extend to the SuperMax Online service, where vehicles are disinfected daily and employees wear disposable gloves with each delivery, he said.

“At the same time, we have increased our same-day delivery, next-day delivery, and pickup at SuperMax Online,” Revuelta said.

Academia turns to online education
A number of colleges in Puerto Rico announced plans to offer online courses over the next few weeks, to avoid a potential spread of the coronavirus.

Sacred Heart University President Gilberto Marxuach sent a letter to the college’s community confirming that classes at the campus will end today and will resume online starting Mar. 23.

Sacred Heart University President Gilberto Marxuach sent a letter to the college’s community confirming that classes at the campus will end today and will resume online starting Mar. 23. However, courses that were already offered online will continue as scheduled.

“Our faculty has been preparing for this eventuality and will begin advising students on the preparations to continue remotely. These orientations and course tests will be carried out remotely during the course of the next week,” he said, noting that extracurricular activities will also be suspended until further notice.

Meanwhile, the Carlos Albizu University said all classes at its San Juan and Mayagüez campuses will also be offered online from Mar. 16-21.

In addition, clinical and professional practices from all academic disciplines are being reviewed and adjusted with the support of program and clinical training directors and practice centers.

“The health and safety of our community is paramount. In keeping with the call of the health and government authorities, the Albizu University has activated its institutional protocol to mitigate the risks of contagion, ensuring that academic and administrative activities can continue virtually at this time,” said Albizu University President José Pons-Madera.

Author Details
Business reporter with 25 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other areas of the economy.

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