What does the new executive order say about COVID-19?

The governor Pedro Pierluisi signed this Monday a new executive order with new measures to respond to the pandemic of the COVID-19, given the proximity of the Christmas season and the recent increase in positive cases in Puerto Rico.

The decree came into force immediately, and also groups the current provisions, such as the requirement of proof of vaccination for visitors to establishments such as restaurants, casinos and inns, as well as the inoculation order for employees of these places.

Here’s what the new executive order says:

  • Vaccination of more employees: private employers and municipalities with 50 or more employees must require that they be vaccinated against COVID-19. Otherwise, they will have to submit negative evidence from a test every seven days.
  • Period to fulfill: The employees of these establishments will have 45 days from the effective date of the order to comply with the vaccination order.
  • Medical or religious exemption: the order removes the requirement to submit a medical or religious exemption to public employees and contractors, because everyone will have to have tests every week. The requirement remains in effect for education and health personnel.
  • Children from five to 11 years old: These students must be vaccinated on or before January 31, 2022 in order to take face-to-face classes, subject to exemptions.
  • Prerogative to minors: They will be able to attend mass events in closed places until January 31 with a negative test result for COVID-19, made 72 hours before entering the establishment. As of February 1, these children will be governed by the provisions that apply to adults. The previous provisions will not apply to children under five years of age, who will not be able to attend these events except for a health dispensation.
  • Virtual education: students with an exemption will not need to take a COVID-19 test and can be in person. If they are not vaccinated or have an exemption, they will only be able to receive virtual education or another alternative method.

What does not change:

  • The use of mask: the requirement is maintained in closed spaces and in activities with 50 people or more outdoors. It is also recommended in tourist areas or in urban areas where there are crowds. The requirement does not apply to beaches or spas.
  • Compulsory vaccination: The vaccination of contractors and government employees, as well as in the health, tourism and education sectors, among others, continues as a requirement to be able to work in person.
  • Requirements in education: for teaching, non-teaching staff or education contractors there is no testing option, unless they have an exemption. If they do not comply with the vaccination or the religious or medical exemption, the employee will not be able to go to work in person.

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