The new executive order, which goes into effect Tuesday, January 4, responds to “scientific data indicating that additional affirmative action is necessary,” according to the document.
The new executive order, which goes into effect Tuesday, January 4, responds to “scientific data indicating that additional affirmative action is necessary,” according to the document. (Teresa Canino Rivera)

The new wave of cases, driven by the omicron variant, forced Governor Pedro Pierluisi to impose a series of executive orders in recent weeks, in an attempt to curb the accelerated transmission of COVID-19 in Puerto Rico.

The new executive order, which goes into effect Tuesday, January 4, responds to “scientific data indicating that additional affirmative action is necessary,” according to the document.

Executive Order 2021-086 refers to historical data reported during December in items such as the positivity rate and daily cases. More than 113,000 infections were confirmed in Puerto Rico last December, which represents a third of all cases detected on the island since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Dr. Rafael Irizarry, professor of Biostatistics at Harvard University.

According to COVID-19 genomic surveillance data, 134 omicron cases have been confirmed on the island. Between December 12 and 25, it was the dominant variant, representing 87.16 percent of the sequenced samples.

What does the new order say? Here we explain:

1. Limited Operating Hours

Until January 18, all private businesses serving the public cannot operate from midnight to 5:00 a.m. are ordered to close. This applies to commercial, professional, non-professional, consumer services, sales, financial, recreational or entertainment, and sports, among others.

2. Dry Laws

The sale of alcohol will be prohibited in establishments that remain open, including pharmacies, gas stations, hotels, inns, supermarkets, grocery stores, among others, between midnight and 5:00 a.m.

The executive order also prohibits the consumption of alcohol in public places during those hours.

Nor will it be allowed to hold or continue with gatherings and social activities in private or public places, according to the order. This includes weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, quinceañeras (girl´s 15th birthday parties), baby showers, dances, gender reveals and family events, among others.

3. Crowded activities

The new order prohibits activities that bring together more than 250 people, regardless of the place - outdoor or indoor - and the time of the event. This temporary measure suspends Section 5 of EO-2021-075, which regulates activities of 500 people or more. According to the document, intervention applies to all citizens that fail to comply with the measures described in the document, including the mandatory use of a mask.

4. Violations

Any individual or company that fails to comply with this executive order may face up to six months in jail or fines of up to $5,000, or both, at the discretion of a court.

Other Executive Orders in effect

Since December 19, the governor has imposed several restrictions related to mass events, travelers and the capacity of businesses. He also ordered all workers in the health and education sectors to receive a booster dose.

EO-2021-085, in effect since December 30, reduces to 50 percent the capacity in closed establishments and to 75 percent the capacity of those that operate in open-air spaces. It applies to restaurants, bars, cafes, sports bars, cinemas, theaters, stadiums, coliseums, casinos, and any place serving drinks or food.

Meanwhile, these establishments must continue to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative result to a coronavirus test performed 48 hours or less before. This order includes food courts.

All passengers - vaccinated or not - traveling to Puerto Rico -domestic flights- must present a negative COVID-19 test performed 48 hours before arriving on the island. Those who do not present a negative test will have 48 hours to have it taken in Puerto Rico or will be fined.

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