Governor of Puerto Rico Implements Some of the Most Widespread Protections in the U.S. to Address the COVID-19 Pandemic Outbreak

(March 25th, 2020 – Washington, D.C.) Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced is implementing some of the most widespread protections in the United States as the world continues to grapple with the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. The Governor has taken several aggressive measures to ensure the health and well-being of the people of Puerto Rico, pioneering several initiatives that has not been previously seen in the United States. 

In an unprecedented act, Governor Vázquez Garced has enforced a full lockdown of the island. This lockdown includes government agencies, schools, shopping malls, theaters, casinos, gyms, recreation parks, bars, clubs, and private business until March 30th, 2020. However, businesses related to the distribution of supply food chain, medical supplies and equipment, gas, financial and banking institutions, and elderly care centers are excluded and remain open. The island is under a strict curfew from 9:00 pm to 5:00 am. Citizens are permitted to be out to receive healthcare services and buy necessary food supplies before 9:00 pm, exempted from the mandatory lockdown are those providing essential services. 

In a historic measure, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved Governor Vázquez Garced’s request to redirect commercial air traffic to the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan. This measure is fundamental given the island’s current situation and the reputation of Puerto Rico as a tourism destination. Additionally, Vázquez Garced was the first in the nation to activate the Puerto Rico National Guard to impose the first 100% passenger health screening at the airports. Furthermore, every individual must submit to 14 days of mandatory quarantine upon arrival to the island. The Governor also announced the closure of ports to all cruise ships to the island.  Governor Vazquez Garced executed these measures in order to protect the 3.2 million U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico, prioritizing the health and safety of the people of Puerto Rico above all else.

On Monday, Governor Vázquez Garced announced a comprehensive relief package of $787 million for the island to mitigate the effects of the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic as businesses and the economy on the island continue to be impacted by this outbreak. This package provides aid to the public and private sector, with the suspension of local sales tax, the extension of the date to submit income taxes to July 15th, 2020, and a moratorium of 90 days on payments of mortgages, cars, credit cards, personal loans, and commercial loans. Additionally, it includes a bonus to nurses, healthcare technicians, emergency responders, policemen, firefighters, and correctional offices. This assistance will help alleviate economic injury caused by this global outbreak and provide economic stimulus to Puerto Rico’s economy during this emergency. 

The Governor has also created important partnerships with the private sector to expedite Coronavirus COVID-19 testing on the island and with the local rum distillery of Puerto Rico “Destileria Serrallés” that will use their ethanol production to create local hand-sanitizers and distribute them to hospitals, first responders, and citizens. Additionally, the Governor signed legislation that moved the date of the Puerto Rico Democratic Primary from March 29th, 2020 to April 26th, 2020. As Puerto Rico continues to fight this Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, the Governor continues to lead and use the full force of her Executive powers to provide an effective comprehensive strategy that helps to mitigate the impact of this emergency. However, Puerto Rico needs assistance and resources to help bolster the Government’s response. 

“As Washington debates the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to provide a relief package to our Nation, it is crucial that Congressional leadership treat Puerto Rico equally so that the island can access much-needed federal resources.  I urge Congress to pass this legislation as soon as possible,” said Governor Vázquez Garced. “As Governor, I will take all necessary actions and measures to ensure the health and well-being of the people of Puerto Rico and I will continue to use the full force of my Executive powers to combat Coronavirus COVID-19. It is my duty to protect the safety of the 3.2 million U.S. citizens who call the island home.” 

Congress must vote on the CARES Act as soon as possible so that the government of Puerto Rico, as well as other jurisdictions throughout the Nation, can have access to adequate resources to effectively provide a robust response to the COVID-19 threat. “This legislation will provide essential resources to mitigate the impact of this global pandemic and it is fundamental that we continue with our efforts to take aggressive measures to control the propagation and the entry of possible cases of Coronavirus COVID-19 to the island.” added Governor Vázquez Garced

“We urge Congressional Leadership to vote on the CARES Act so that Puerto Rico and other states throughout the Nation who are desperately grappling with the effects of this pandemic can access the necessary resources to respond,” said Jennifer M. Storipan, Esq. “This legislation will provide Puerto Rico assistance for our economy and resources to continue combating the Coronavirus COVID-19 and saving lives.” 

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Published by PRFAA

Official website of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration - Office of the Governor of Puerto Rico in Washington, D.C.

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