ollowing a recent drop in COVID-19 cases and related death, Governor Wanda Vazquez issued an executive order allowing for the reopening of beaches, casinos, gyms, and theaters in Puerto Rico, beginning September 12.
Governor Vazquez said that there were around 3,900 fewer COVID-19 cases, compared to the previous counts during the four weeks leading up to August 22. Likewise, she cited 162 deaths recorded from August 1 – 22, compared with 88 deaths during the period from August 22 – September 10.
The decision remains in place through October 2, when the territory’s epidemiological situation will be reassessed, the Travel Pulse reports
An island-wide curfew from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. is still in effect, although the previous 24-hour lockdown on Sundays will be lifted.
Bars, clubs, discos and cafes remain closed, while restaurants, malls, and retail shops are allowed to open at 50-percent capacity. Museums can now also operate at 50-percent capacity, but theatres, casinos, and gym facilities are currently limited to 25-percent capacity.
Reportedly, independent health experts are skeptical about the easing of restrictions, given that similar reopenings occurred in early June, which led to a spike in infection rates, and the subsequent retightening of measures in August.
Epidemiologist Roberta Lugo told AP News that such a wide-ranging relaxation of health and safety precautions was worrisome, considering that contact-tracing and monitoring systems have yet to become implemented fully, and the success of reopening largely depends upon business and individuals regulating themselves. She said that gyms, theatres and casinos are considered high-risk venues and that she anticipates an increase in new cases and resulting deaths linked to their reopening.
Dr. Jose Rodriguez Orengo of the Puerto Rico Public Health Trust agreed that COVID-19 conditions on the island have improved, but, "It's all going to depend on people's behavior to maintain that."
Visitors to Puerto Rico are required to complete an online Travel Declaration and provide proof of their negative results of a molecular-based COVID-19 test performed no more than 72 hours prior to departure if they wish to circumvent a 14-day self-quarantine requirement upon entry.