Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Officials in Puerto Rico extend movement restrictions and 2100-0500 curfew to May 3 due to COVID-19. Other measures remain in place.

This alert affects Puerto Rico

This alert began 12 Apr 2020 12:15 GMT and is scheduled to expire 03 May 2020 21:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Islandwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least May 3
  • Impact: Business and travel disruptions, increased security

Summary
The governor of Puerto Rico announced the extension of the movement restriction measures with revisions, effective April 13-May 3. The measures are part of the government's efforts to stem the curb of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). From April 13, the curfew will be reduced to 2100-0500 from 1900-0500, except for people with medical emergencies and those providing essential services. Movement restrictions are in place 0500-2100, allowing residents to only leave their homes to purchase food, medicines, and other basic goods, go to a health facility or care for a family member or friend in need. Under the new measures, supermarkets, pharmacies, and fuel stations will be 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. The government will lift the vehicular restrictions based on license plates from April 13; no private vehicles will be allowed to circulate April 12.

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. The authorities have also instructed businesses to not allow people to enter their establishments without a face mask, until further notice.

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.

The measures in place will significantly impact business and transport in the country, with a larger-than-usual police presence in the streets. All restrictions 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). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
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.

Resources
WHO coronavirus knowledge base: www.who.int

Government of Puerto Rico - Executive Order: www.fortaleza.pr.gov

Puerto Rico Health Department - COVID-19 Updates: www.salud.gov.pr