Friday 4 December, 2020

Puerto Rico orders curfew, business closures for coronavirus

Puerto Rico's governor on Sunday ordered a curfew and the closure of all businesses and nonessential government offices, except for gas stations and those dealing in food, health or finance.

The closures ordered by territorial Gov. Wanda Vázquez started at 6.00 pm and last for two weeks.

The order affects shops, theatres, parks, malls, gyms, courts and other activities. It follows confirmation of a fifth confirmed case of the new coronavirus in Puerto Rico.

Takeout restaurants, supermarkets, pharmacies and banks can remain open. But they'll have to close each day at 6 p.m.

Even citizens will be barred from the streets between 5.00 am and 9.00 pm, save for those working in security, health or food distribution.

Elizabeth Solá Oliver, owner of a yoga and pilates studio in San Juan, began looking at ways to continue operating over the next two weeks. But she said it will be difficult because her clients must follow the isolation order.

"We are evaluating the possibility of streaming, putting classes online and yes, we are available to give private yoga and pilates classes," she said. "But the studio has 10 teachers. The majority are dedicated to this full time and if all the studios close and the gyms too, it is going to be a very difficult situation."

Jorge Argüelles, president of the United Retail Central, an organization that brings together about 5,000 small and medium businesses, called the order ambiguous and said there were merchants with doubts about its scope.

"The government must take advantage and implement measures that reduce the cost of doing business in Puerto Rico and that compensate the affected businesses," Argüelles said.

The governor's order sets a six-month jail term or a fine of up to $5,000 for violators. It came a day after the governor ordered schools closed until March 30.

Solá Oliver said she had found the order confusing as well, but that its effect will "in economic terms be devastating."

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