May 14, 2021

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Merchant affected by the coronavirus crisis: "I'm going crazy"

The new anti-coronavirus measures ordered by Governor Wanda Vázquez have caused the economic crisis that many businesses have been facing since last March to be much deeper and difficult to overcome.

The situation is such that the owner of Helsinky Bayamón Activities Room, Orlando Díaz, stated that “I am going crazy.”

These are the changes in the new Executive Order on the coronavirus

Díaz did not know that the activity rooms were included in the new executive order as those that cannot have operations. He said he thought they were treated like restaurants. Still, he specified that “all the people postponed the activities for the next year. The same date, but next year. "

" Six months without a job, believe me it is not easy and without income, "added the merchant, while thanking God that the place where his business is located is balance and that he has managed to obtain unemployment.

He explained that doing activities in a room designated for those events would be more convenient than house parties. He pointed out that there they would be required to continuously wear a mask and there would be other controls to avoid contagion, such as limiting the number of attendees. In his case, he explained that his room has room for 300 people and was only scheduled to accept 50.

However, in his new executive order, Vázquez established that there will be a total closure of discotheques, cinemas, theaters, bars, salons of activities or any place that encourages crowds

Chinchorros are other restricted businesses, especially for the sale of alcoholic beverages.

Erlica Rodríguez Figueroa, who manages the Lechonera Los Pinos, in Guavate, Cayey, explained that sales they have decreased by 80% due to government restrictions on the coronavirus.

“Right now, on Sundays with the Dry Law, it's terrible. Bar employees are affected. We limit ourselves only to food service and we must explain to the tourist, "he said.

He said that with Puerto Ricans they have had no problems, because they prefer to buy their food to take away and stop to eat in a place designed to observe the landscape.

“They prefer to eat it in cars. They say they want to leave their home and that is the distraction, "he said.

Rodríguez Figueroa urged for government aid for businesses for the sale of prepared food. He said that an alternative is to eliminate the Sales and Use Tax of 7%.

"That could help us a little financially," he said, asserting that more diners would arrive.

The executive director of the Restaurant Association, Gadiel Lebrón , pointed out that this proposal would be a benefit to the consumer in these times of economic problems and the complications caused by the near passage of the Isaías storm.

“Operating a restaurant in these times of pandemic and the order that remained in force today, It is definitely a challenge, because it limits and basically cancels dinner in the evening. Placing an order not to consume alcoholic beverages after 7:00 p.m. makes it difficult for everyone to have dinner. Most people accompany their dinner with a bottle of wine or some alcoholic drink and by habit the Puerto Rican dines late. So that makes it a little difficult, "he said.

He commented that many restaurant owners will not be able to survive the economic impact of the pandemic.

" We have recently done studies that show that 20% to 30% of the restaurants that will not be able to overcome this process and will end up closing, "said Lebrón.

The representative of the restaurants indicated that they are waiting to be summoned to some meeting to update the protocol of operation of the restaurants imposed by the Department of Health last April, as well as advocating a “balance between what we all want, which is the health of the people and the economic health of the country.”

Casinos will continue to be closed [19659002] Casinos are another of the sectors that will remain closed, as the governor imposed on this new executive.

Ismael Vega, General Manager of the Casino Metro, at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel and Casino, stated the order is "unfair" .

He explained that the 16 casinos that are on the Island were prepared and invested a lot of money to start operations in early July. Two weeks later, they were ordered to close, causing the 3,000 employees they have to return to unemployment.

“It was an injustice that they closed us when we and several other economic sectors were not part of the problem nor were we the focus (of infection) ) and there was a lack of brutal government oversight in areas that had to be addressed. This extension is more than unfair, "he pointed out.

The casino manager indicated that he is frustrated because they made a large investment to remain closed. He noted that, in the meantime, adult amusement machines continue to operate without any restriction or measure to prevent contagion.

“The adult amusement machines that are out there are reluctant, without protocol or distancing. They have continued to operate since day one. That they check to see if there is a machine turned off, if there is a sanitizer. Those machines have continued to operate, while we are still closed, ”he said, outlining all the measures they took to reopen for just two weeks. That includes the placement of acrylic barriers and the prohibition of the use of many of the machines.

Vega, finally, demanded a faithful balance and control in the sectors that truly represent a focus of contagion.

He pointed out to people that They celebrated on July 4, held political caravans and went to the beaches as the real culprits of the increase in cases of COVID-19. He stated that, in casinos, however, there was only one positive case and no outbreak was recorded. This case occurred in the center located in the Hotel La Concha, Condado.

For his part, the president of the Association of Puerto Rican Shopping Centers, Adolfo González, what pleased him about the latest executive order is that they did not impose more restrictions, beyond being unable to operate on Sundays, as was established in mid-July.

"Thankfully they did not add additional restrictions," he noted, regarding the executive order that came into effect today, Saturday.

Without However, the manager of the San Patricio shopping centers explained that since they began operations last June they have shown that they have not been the focus of contagion.

"We understand that you can keep shops open on Sundays without having a significant effect",

He asked the governor to contemplate letting the shops open on Sundays for the next executive order.

“As the shops have suffered so much, because every little bit that can be done to Helping is significant ", he pointed out.

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