Puerto Rico moves to curtail COVID-19
Amid international concerns regarding COVID-19 Puerto Rico has instituted multiple safety measures to protect the Puerto Rican people and contain the spread of the virus. As of March 15, 2020, there have been 5 confirmed cases of Corona Virus in Puerto Rico. These cases and the reaction spread around the world has led Governor Vasquez to call for the closure of almost every social activity after 6 pm. Theaters, parks, shopping malls, gyms, and other establishments have been ordered to temporarily halt their daily business, while grocery stores, pharmacies, among other food establishments can be open until 6 pm.
There is also an enforced curfew for people after 9 pm, the only time people will be able to walk the streets or go gather their essential items is between the hours of 5 am to 9 pm. If people are caught outside their houses during that time it will be met with police interactions. The governor has also imposed strict consequences for failure to heed the restrictions with either a $5,000 fine or up to six months in jail. The governor says that citizens’ response to the outbreak was not as serious as it needed to be and so she took what she viewed as appropriate steps to let people know how serious the virus actually was and did what was necessary to protect the people of Puerto Rico. She was quoted as saying “If we don’t act now with determination and force, the consequences tomorrow will be even worse.”
The virus was reported coming into Puerto Rico through a cruise with an Italian couple both testing positive for the virus. The ship was originally re-routed to Puerto Rico after being turned away at Jamaica. This move was criticized by the Puerto Rican people by claiming that the government’s response to COVID-19 was too relaxed and that they needed to be stricter and the Governor has taken that seriously with her responses following that.
However, some are uncertain about the state of emergency that has been declared. With tourism still uncertain amid hurricane recovery and earthquake recovery, some think that the eight-week shutdown will bring the economy down even further. Planes have already shuttered ticketed prices down exponentially and with the declaration that all bars and restaurants are to be closed during what are normally high customer traffic times, it remains to be seen what will happen to the economic life in Puerto Rico following the eight-week shutdown of island life.