Governor Wanda Vázquez.(GFR Media)
Governor Wanda Vázquez.(GFR Media)

Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced announced yesterday the new executive order extending the curfew - which is now from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. - until July 22. The order, however, eases restrictions on government services, as well as commercial and social activities.

This new order will take effect this Wednesday, and will be in force for three weeks. "As in previous orders, this executive order stresses the importance of wearing masks at all times, following recommendations by the Medical Task Force and the Health Secretary," the governor said in a press release. La Fortaleza did not invite reporters for this announcement. Yesterday, Vázquez Garced was at a campaign activity in Isabela, according to social media.

The measure establishes that government employees that authorities deem essential will gradually return to work, starting July 1.

"To preserve the health and safety of public employees, each agency head must maintain all safety, health, and infection control measures established in the COVID-19 Exposure Control and Response Plan," La Fortaleza said in the press release.

The order also allows agencies offering services to the public to begin receiving people in their facilities as of July 6.

According to the statement, each agency, according to its necessities, must notify citizens of the conditions for customer services. It is important to avoid crowding, and the use of masks is mandatory.

No measures for airports

The document provided by La Fortaleza does not include any additional or stricter measures for airports, at a time when the Medical Task Force advising the government has warned of the surge in cases in the United States and the arrival of passengers in Puerto Rico. At least three recent outbreaks on the island have been linked to air arrivals.

The governor said they will remain "on alert and closely monitoring the increase of COVID-19 cases in the United States and other countries," and she will later decide on the measures for airports.

"Each citizen has the responsibility to take the measures to prevent the spread of this virus," the governor said.

Vázquez Garced indicated that, during the time this order is in effect, "responsible monitoring will be carried out, analyzing the measures taken to study its effects and adopt any necessary modifications on time."

The new order will allow services in universities, but each institution must develop a protocol to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Health Department, and Puerto Rico Occupational Safety and Health Administration (PR-OSHA) regulations.

"The opening of university education services will be allowed, complying with the six-feet separation guidelines, the mandatory use of masks, and frequent hand washing," reported La Fortaleza.

Similarly, public and private schools - which are scheduled to start classes in mid-August - will have to draw up their work plans to reopen schools according to health and safety parameters to prevent the spread of the virus during the next school semester.

The order states that the reopening of private and public schools, at least until July 22, is intended to prepare the facilities for the next school semester, but students will not be able to visit the institutions yet.

"Each educational entity, including the Department of Education, must present its back-to-school plans and the modality to offer courses on time," the order states.

Public Transportation

On the other hand, Vázquez Garced indicated that as of July 1 the sale of the Electronic Lottery and the traditional lottery will be allowed, as well as public transportation services, according to the regulations established by the Metropolitan Bus Authority (AMA) and the Tren Urbano.

As for wakes and funerals, they may be carried out according to the protocol established by the Department of Health. Cemeteries may open to the public, as long as they comply with prevention measures, social distancing measures, and the protocol established by the Department of Health.

Likewise, casinos may open, "as long as they do not exceed 75 percent of their capacity" and that they comply with preventive measures.

In the commercial area, shops and restaurants capacity allowed was extended up to 75 percent, instead of the 50 percent established by the executive order in force until tomorrow.