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Puerto Rico is all set to reopen its beaches, restaurants, churches, and other businesses after the Caribbean island emerges from a two-month-long lockdown. Strict safety protocols will be taken to cautiously prepare for the return of tourists and help revive the country’s economy. By Upasana Singh
Last week, Governor Wanda Vázquez announced that public areas and businesses in Puerto Rico will reopen on Tuesday with a 7 pm-5 am curfew in place until June 15. As reported by the Associated Press, she said, “Puerto Rico is facing a new way of life. It’s the right time … We have flattened the curve.”
While restaurants will begin operating at 25 per cent capacity, hair salons, and barbershops are allowed to welcome visitors by appointments only. Malls are set to open their doors only after June 8 but retail stores will reopen with limited capacity and restrictions on trying clothes. Activities such as surfing, jogging, swimming, or kayaking will be allowed on the beach from 5 am to 7 pm. However, non-essential businesses like movie theatres, casinos, and gyms will remain closed until further notice.
In a post on the island’s travel site, Discover Puerto Rico stated that in terms of international arrivals, “the Puerto Rico National Guard will continue to assist with enhanced health screenings of all arriving passengers, including offering rapid COVID-19 testing.” All arriving flights will be limited to Puerto Rico’s main international airport. Passengers will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival regardless of whether or not they show any Coronavirus-related symptoms.
The Caribbean island has recorded over 3,000 confirmed cases of the virus with around 127 deaths. Several health experts have voiced their concerns about the country’s belief in successfully tackling the virus. Despite these worries, the limited reopening is aimed at helping Puerto Ricans revitalise their crumbling economy and unemployment issues.
Amid the pandemic, the governor said that although public places are scheduled to reopen soon, it won’t be the same anymore. There will be measures to ensure effective social distancing practices and reduce the risk of the Novel Coronavirus’ transmission. Special hours have also been allocated for essential businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies.