Night Business Closings And Dry Law Come Into Force in Puerto Rico

The explosion of covid-19 cases in Puerto Rico has led the Government to impose from this Tuesday until January 18 the dry law and the closure of night businesses, among other restrictions that come into force to the dismay of businessmen.

The new Executive Order 2021-086, signed by Governor Pedro Pierluisi, prohibits the sale of alcohol and the opening of businesses that serve the public from midnight to 5:00 am.

The bans, which try to contain the record numbers of infections on the island due to the omicron variant of the coronavirus, have provoked the anger of administrators of small establishments dedicated to the sale of food or drinks, whose hours usually extend beyond midnight.

“PENALTY” BUSINESSES

Iván Villahermosa, an administrator of the Casa Cataño and AquiCBB businesses, criticized the new executive order for naming restaurants and bars as the alleged places where people are most infected.

“Everything that is for the good of the people, I agree. What happens is that we are always dividing and penalizing restaurants or bars,” said Villahermosa in an interview with Efe on the promenade of Cataño, a neighboring municipality of San Juan.

He explained that Casa Cataño will not be affected by the new executive order, but AquiCBB will, where the usual closing time is at two in the morning. Therefore, you will have to reduce your operations by two hours, causing thousands of dollars in losses.

The new order also prohibits any mass activity of more than 250 people, either inside or outside any facility, but does not mention shopping centers or large stores, where up to thousands of buyers gather at the same time. the days.

“So, it doesn’t stick there and it does here? That’s why many of us get upset. We have to be fair to each other,” argued Villahermosa.

Given the whole situation, the businessman proposed that the mayors of the 78 municipalities of Puerto Rico have their own ordinances and restrictions to stop the contagion of covid-19 on the island, where this Tuesday the positivity rate reached 33.18%.

According to data from the Health Department, in the last 24 hours more than 8,700 infections have been recorded, between cases confirmed with molecular testing and probable with antigens, and four deaths.

For his part, José Lomba, one of the three owners of the Pinchoneo business in Guaynabo, another municipality near San Juan, assured that “the Government always does things to affect small businesses and leaves large businesses free.”

“I do not believe in closing, but I do believe in taking care of yourself and getting vaccinated. If you think that the covid strikes at dawn, then everyone stops home at that time,” said the businessman and promoter of events.

CLOSE OR BE FINED

Lomba explained that Pinchoneo does not have a closing schedule, so it sometimes continues to operate until four in the morning, but that with the new executive order it will be forced to close and inform its guests that they have to leave.

“Now at 11 I have to throw people out and at 12 you have to clean everything, because if not the Treasury and Health come and verify that there are no diners in the business or they will find you” he said.

He argued that the business will lose around 20% in revenue from the new order.

This ordinance is not the only one that has come into force in the last week, after the imposition of restrictions on capacity in premises and the requirement of a negative test, in addition to evidence of vaccination, to attend events.

The governor has approved a battery of measures, among which the obligatory nature of the booster dose of the covid-19 vaccine for all health personnel, teachers, police officers, and workers in restaurants and supermarkets, among others, stands out.

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