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Puerto Rico shopping center execs ask governor to extend operating hours

The Puerto Rico Association of Shopping Centers said following a “successful” first week of reopening after a nearly three-month shutdown, they are “ready for the next phase,” and asked Gov. Wanda Vázquez to allow them to return to regular operating hours.

“We’re proud of the result of the reopening, since it was carried out in a responsible manner, putting everyone’s health as the focus,” said César Vázquez, president of Céntrico, during a news conference. “This in turn will continue to increase economic development in a safe way and little by little we will return to normal.”

The Association comprises Céntrico, Plaza del Caribe, Plaza las Américas, San Patricio Plaza, The Mall of San Juan, Plaza Río Hondo, Plaza del Sol, Plaza del Norte, Plaza Escorial, Plaza Fajardo, Plaza Cayey, Plaza Isabela, Plaza Walmart, Plaza Vega Baja, Señorial Plaza and Plaza del Atlántico, which reopened at limited capacity on June 1.

The shopping center executives said they are currently operating at 60% in terms of the hours allowed by Executive Order 2020-041, which established a limited reopening of local businesses as the island works to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The current curfew set in the Executive Order runs from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Businesses are to remain closed on Sunday, through June 15, when the Executive Order expires.

Shopping centers are reportedly losing $77 million in weekly sales from the remaining 40% of operations that remain closed, some $20.3 million in direct, indirect and induced wages, $8.4 million in collections for the government’s coffers, and more than 52,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs.

They estimated that between 60% and 90% of mall stores have opened since June 1. However, the current schedule is “especially harmful” to the restaurant sector, which represents 25% of shopping center tenants.

Their operations have been significantly affected by the limited operating hours, which practically eliminates dinner, and the current occupancy limitation to 25%. Sales losses in this sector are estimated at 50%, Vázquez said.

“This past week after the reopening of the shopping centers, it was demonstrated that there was a need that must be filled,” said Association President Adolfo “Tito” González.

“We appreciate the great collaboration of the tenants and employees who made all this possible, and furthermore we recognize the excellent collaboration of the people because with their cooperation, by following all the rules and protocols, we can validate that we’re ready for the next phase,” he said.

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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