(May 1, 2020- La Fortaleza, San Juan) – Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced announced that today she will present Executive Order 2020-038, which extends Puerto Rico’s mandatory lockdown period until May 25, seeking to further control the risk of contagion and slow the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 on the island. The Executive Order will allow a limited opening of certain industries, shops, and services at specific times.
“Our focus has been to carry out all the necessary efforts to safeguard the health, life, and safety of the people of Puerto Rico. It is with this in mind, that we are gradually reactivating the economy and evaluating a reopening to happen in phases and in an orderly and safe manner. We must remember that the increase or decrease in the risk of infection and contagion will depend to a greater extent on the collaboration of the citizens,” said the Governor.
The mandatory curfew (“lockdown”) will continue 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with the exception of those that have a medical appointment, are seeking hospital services, need laboratories, or hospital medical service centers. Additionally, exceptions include the need to purchase food, pharmaceuticals goods, and other basic necessities; or go to any of the exempt establishments for necessary or urgent care procedures. The lockdown will continue to be from 5:00 a.m. in the morning to 7:00 p.m. at night.
However, the Executive Order includes a new provision that allows exercise. As exercise is proven to aid in the strengthening of the immune system, physical outdoor activities such as running, jogging, walking, cycling, and walking with children will be allowed during the lockdown. This new provision will permit exercise while observing social distancing rules; this means that individuals must keep a 6-foot distance between people, and conduct their exercise between the hours of 5:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
On the other hand, the Governor also reiterated that pharmacies and gas stations will be able to operate regularly 7 days a week, at previously established hours. This will include lottery sales and inspection centers, although this doesn’t include car licenses that have a moratorium still in place.
The Executive Order also includes Primary and specialist doctors, including mental health and optometrists that will continue to offer services using telemedicine, but with the new order, in-person visits can be made in their offices, attending to their patients by appointment and with the necessary precautionary measures in place. Dental offices will be governed by the ADA and Dental Board Guidelines and emergencies will be handled by appointment.
Vázquez Garced said that “In addition to these provisions, mortgage closings will be allowed in financial institutions by appointment, one client at a time and will be limited to requirements that could only be attended in person. Everything else must be advanced electronically.”
Furthermore, within the groups that are exempt from providing basic needs to vulnerable populations, animal shelters were added.
Companies offering vehicle repair and parts services, as well as hardware stores, are authorized to operate Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with the same conditions that they have been operating this week.
On the other hand, the businesses that are added in EO 2020-38 are laundry and laundromats, the Official Inspection Centers, and businesses dedicated to ornamental agriculture, all from Monday to Friday, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Additional services include inspection of elevators, removals, services to ports and airports, and repair and maintenance services of air conditioners.
Furthermore, notary services will be allowed for transactions that are required in the ordinary course of business, legal services, CPA firms, and other similar professional services necessary that cannot be performed remotely, but subject to social distancing measures.
The critical infrastructure part includes the installation, repair, maintenance, and rehabilitation works of energy production systems, based on renewable or alternate energy, repair, and maintenance of streets, roads, and highways, as well as private infrastructure, to ensure the continuity of operations, and services exempt from closure. In addition, to the sale, installation, and maintenance of infrastructure and equipment necessary to attend this forthcoming hurricane season.
Among the excluded citizens contemplated in this Executive Order, the civil litigation attorneys summoned before the courts and notaries were added only to offer the services detailed by the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico. Similarly, the DACO inspectors, and the investigators of the UPR laboratories were also added.
Supermarkets or grocery stores will continue to operate from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., allowing the delivery system until 10:00 p.m. The sale of prepared food will continue, exclusively through carry-out or delivery, without allowing diners inside the establishments.
“I ask the people of Puerto Rico, once again, for patience. We are all eager to resume our routine, but there needs to be an understanding of the measures we are taking, which I know are difficult, but they are for the health and safety of all Puerto Ricans. Step by step, we are going to continue evaluating the reactivation of the economic movement, with mechanisms in place that will allow the operation of more industries and services. Our priority is the health of all the people that call the island home.” assured the Governor.