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Puerto Rico Tightens COVID-19 Restrictions

Puerto Rico already had some of the tightest restrictions on people’s movements, and last night Governor Wanda Velazquez Garced issued new rules that make Puerto Rico among the toughest jurisdictions in the U.S. to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Previous rulings had all but essential workers required to stay home from 9:00 5:00 a.m. People were allowed to leave their homes between 5:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.only to buy food or medicine, or to help others to do so. All non-essential businesses were required to close their doors. The curfews and closures were intended to last for two weeks.

Now, the original restrictions have been extended to April 12th and more restrictions are in place.

As of March 31, the evening curfew will begin at 7:00 rather than 9:00. Vehicles with license plates ending in even numbers will be allowed on the roads Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday are reserved for vehicles with odd numbers.

Lack of cooperation

These additional rules, the governor said, are needed because people are not cooperating with the original rules. Even though breaking those rules carries penalties of $1,000 fines and six months in jail, almost 400 people have been cited for breaking curfew.

The businesses that are allowed to remain open include supermarkets, restaurants just for carryout or delivery, pharmacies, medical equipment stores, gas stations and banks, as well as their suppliers. 36 states have made similar rules.

Puerto Rico has also limited air travel, along with 26 states and two other territories. However, like Florida and Hawaii, Puerto Rico continues to see tourists arriving in hopes of getting some fun time on the beach while their employers or schools are closed.

Puerto Rico has 79 cases as of this writing, with three deaths. The first two fatalities were tourists, but the most recent death was of a Puerto Rican woman in her forties. Puerto Rico has an older population with higher levels of chronic diseases. The healthcare system is still suffering from the effects of the Island’s long recession, and from damage caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017 and earthquakes earlier this year.

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