Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Puerto Rico extends movement restrictions and 2100-0500 curfew to May 25. Some movement, business restrictions to be relaxed from May 4.

This alert affects Puerto Rico

This alert began 01 May 2020 14:30 GMT and is scheduled to expire 25 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Islandwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through May 25
  • Impact: Business and travel disruptions, increased security

The governor of Puerto Rico has extended existing movement restrictions and the nightly 1900-0500 curfew through May 25. These restrictions, which were slated to end May 3, are part of the government's efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). People with medical emergencies and those providing essential services are exempt from the curfew. Movement restrictions will be enforced 0500-1900. During these hours, residents are permitted to leave their homes to purchase food, medicines, and other goods from authorized stores and businesses, procure services from authorized businesses, go to a health facility or care for a family member or friend in need. Supermarkets, pharmacies, and fuel stations will be still able to operate from Monday to Saturday during the day until 2000; pharmacies and fuel stations will be able to operate with limited hours on Sundays.

Beginning May 4, the government will gradually begin relaxing movement and business restrictions as follows:

  • Outdoor physical exercise will be permitted 0500-1500, while observing a 1.8-meter (six-foot) social distancing requirement.
  • Primary and specialist doctors, including mental health practitioners and optometrists, may allow in-person visits by appoint under additional protocols.
  • Financial institutions may allow in-person services for mortgage closings, by appointment only and under additional protocols.
  • Companies offering vehicle repair and parts services, as well as hardware stores, may operate Monday-Friday between 0900-1700.
  • Laundromats, ornamental agricultural businesses and the Official Inspection Centers may operate Monday-Friday between 0900-1700.
  • Repair and maintenance services of air conditioners and elevators, as well as removal services and other transportation businesses may resume.
  • Notary services that cannot be performed remotely may resume subject to social distancing measures.

The authorities have instructed businesses to not allow people to enter their establishments without a face mask, until further notice. Businesses are also required to enforce social distancing protocols for employees and customers, and, where appropriate to serve only person at a time, by appointment only. Previously announced restrictions are still in effect, including the closure of most nonessential businesses and public offices, including gyms, bars, malls, and shopping centers, and cinemas.

Additionally, all commercial passenger flights into the island will land at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (LLM) in San Juan, while charter flights will only be able to land in LLM, Rafael Hernandez Airport (BQN) in Aguadilla, and Isla Grande Airport (SIG). Cargo flights may continue to operate in all Puerto Rico's airports. A ban on the arrival of cruise ships to the island remains in place, while cargo ships maintain their operations. There are additional ongoing travel restrictions of foreign citizens into the island following a proclamation by US President Donald J. Trump. Non-US citizens or residents from 28 European countries, Iran, and China will not be allowed to enter the island until further notice.

Significant transport and business disruptions are likely. Authorities will likely keep an increased police presence deployed to enforce the movement restrictions and curfew. All measures are subject to amendment at short notice.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by Puerto Rico's authorities correspond with similar actions taken by other governments globally in recent weeks in response to the spread of COVID-19, a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. Officials in Puerto Rico have likely taken the decision to gradually relax internal restrictions to allow some economic recovery. Should the number of COVID-19 cases significantly increase, officials may reapply the relaxed restrictions. Likewise, a continued low number of cases may result in further relaxation of restrictions.

Follow all official instructions. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers. Plan for possible ground shipping and travel delays; seek alternative routes and shipping methods for time-sensitive cargo.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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