Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Officials in Puerto Rico tighten restrictions on businesses April 10-12 due to COVID-19. Other movement and business restrictions in place.

This alert affects Puerto Rico

This alert began 06 Apr 2020 08:41 GMT and is scheduled to expire 12 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Islandwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least April 12
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions, travel restrictions, increased security

Summary
Officials in Puerto Rico will tighten their restrictions on businesses April 10-12 as part of the government's efforts to stem the curb of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), particularly during the Easter holy week (Semana Santa), when domestic movements tend to increase. All businesses, including food stores, supermarkets, banks, financial institutions, and hardware stores, will be required to close during this time. Pharmacies and fuel stations are exempt. Essential services will continue operating. The measure is an escalation of the closure of most nonessential businesses and public offices through at least April 12, 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.

These measures are in addition to ongoing restrictions on internal movements and operations:

  • A 1900-0500 curfew is in place, except for people with emergencies and those providing essential services.
  • Movement restrictions are in place 0500-1900, 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. All supermarkets will be closed on Sundays in April.
  • Vehicular restrictions are in place as of March 31. Only vehicles with license plates ending in an even number can circulate Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, while those with license plates ending in odd numbers be on the streets Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. People with an emergency or workers of essential businesses will be exempted.


Additionally, through at least mid-April, 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 through at least early April.

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
Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in the areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

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