Shopping Centers say new restrictions will hit already-frail small businesses
The Puerto Rican Association of Shopping Centers issued a statement regarding the government’s new Executive Order 2020-062, saying that while “thankful” that it did not call for a full shutdown of the economy, it anticipated that the new restrictions will “have an effect on the sales of small and medium-sized businesses, many of which are already in a very fragile state.”
The president of the trade group, Adolfo “Tito” González, said, “shopping centers have maintained and enforced very strict protocols. The Health Department itself has visited us several times, without prior notice, and has not raised any flags. Our sector has not been identified as a source of infection, as Epidemiologist Juan Carlos Reyes incorrectly told several media outlets.”
He said because the pandemic will be around for “many months,” it asked the medical and economic task forces advising the government to work together to establish clear goals and parameters “to be able to work together to find solutions and avoid opening and closing businesses, with the unemployment and uncertainty, and complications that this entails.”
The Executive Order will be in effect through Sept. 11 and calls for open format shopping centers to reduce occupancy inside stores to no more than 25%. Foot traffic inside corridors of closed format shopping centers will be limited to 1 person per 100 square feet. The capacity of most businesses allowed to operate is limited to 25%, including restaurants, which had asked the governor to let them operate at full seating.
“We hope that during these next 21 days of the Executive Order, both citizens and the government will do their part to significantly reduce infections so little by little, we can go back to the phase we were in,” González said.
“The shopping centers assume our part responsibly, but it is also necessary to educate the population, do enough tests, track cases and impose sanctions on those who don’t comply,” he added.