There are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Puerto Rico. Governor Wanda Vazquez has announced an executive order to help stop the spread. Executive Order No. 2020-023 requires closing of most businesses and curfews for people living in the territory.
The point of these restrictions is to keep people who may be infected with the virus away from people who are not infected. Slowing the rate of infection can keep the numbers of cases low enough to allow the healthcare system in the territory to care for all the people who become infected.
A night time curfew has been imposed throughout the territory. From 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. people must stay at home unless they are required to go to work. Scofflaws will pay up to $5,000 or spend up to six months in jail.
Between 5:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., people may leave their homes for some specific purposes. They may still go to work if their workplace stays open. They may go out to buy food and medicine or to attend medical appointments.
People may also go out in order help others who may be in special danger from the coronavirus. Specifically, people may provide “transportation of citizens and senior citizens, minors, dependents, people with disabilities or especially vulnerable people who require some kind of medical or professional attention.”
In all cases, these errands must be done with precautions to avoid contagion.
Gathering places and other businesses
Banks, gas stations, and businesses involved in providing food or medical care may stay open. This includes pharmacies, grocery stores, restaurants offering drive-through or delivery services, and nursing homes. Bars, game rooms, concert venues, sporting events, shopping centers, gyms, and similar businesses will be required to close their doors from Sunday, March 15, to Sunday, March 30.
All other non-essential businesses must close for the two-week period.
Would statehood make a difference?
As Senator Rick Scott pointed out in a tweet, residents of Puerto Rico should not have to wait longer for results than residents of states.
As of this writing, the CD reports that Guam is the only U.S. territory with local testing facilities. Puerto Rico is labeled “in progress.” So are the U.S. Virgin Islands. All 50 states are currently testing.
However, Puerto Rico has taken stronger measures than many states. This could put Puerto Rico in a stronger position than some states. New Jersey is so far the only state with a curfew.
We have seen a suggestion that it is time to give up politics and “concentrate on the virus.” In fact, if you are at home with extra free time, it’s a great time to send letters to your congressperson, to encourage friends and family members in Florida to contact their lawmakers, and to share information about statehood with others on social media. You don’t need to concentrate on the virus — just follow your local restrictions and protect yourself and your community. Learn more about the virus.