Puerto Rico looks towards the future with phased reopening plans
With a number of states beginning to either reopen or plan to gradually reopen, in the midst of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, officials in Puerto Rico are also beginning to plan for the future. Puerto Rico’s Secretary for Economic Development and Commerce, Manuel Laboy, recently commented on how he has been in contact with several economists about when reopening can be feasible without upending public health measures designed to protect individuals. The first business sectors planned for graduate reopening at this point in time in Puerto Rico include tourism, construction, real estate, and professional services. While uncertainty remains, the process of reopening is expected to take place not long after May 3 based on current suggestions.
Governor Wanda Vázquez (NPP, R) has been discussing matters with the federal administration, as a phased reopening is planned to take place in three steps. Under this phased loosening of the current restrictions on businesses and movement of people, different sectors of the economy would gradually open doors again and go back to in-person services. The Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico has also gotten on board with calling for a gradual reopening, however Executive Director of the Board, Natalie Jaresko, also made clear that extra precautions, particularly in caring for the elderly and most vulnerable populations, must be put into place once the process of reopening Puerto Rico begins. While many aspects of reopening will slowly move things back towards normalcy for citizens of and visitors to Puerto Rico, like those living across the world there will be numerous changes to everyday life that will still affect nearly all segments of the population during the process of trying to get economic functions back on track while making sure that the government, business, and individuals do not threaten the safety and well-being of the population.
While the entire economy has been shaken in Puerto Rico, as in almost all communities across the globe, a building food crisis has been one of the major issues facing the territory. This poses a particular threat to children and their families, as the necessary closing of schools has also meant that a major source of daily nutrition has closed down for numerous children. Community members have been doing their best to assist families and their children, but funding from the government and nonprofits have been unable to reach many families and help fill their pantries as the rollout of funds and programs has been uneven. The Economic Task Force, established in Puerto Rico to map out scenarios for preparing the path forward, has noted that data-driven preparations must be central to the process moving forward, and looking to the plans from the Economic Task Force and other officials in the coming days will be important as expectations for an upcoming phased reopening plan is likely to roll out across Puerto Rico.