Two weeks after implementing the requirement to present the negative molecular test for covid-19 in order to enter the island, the Department of Health has issued 16,882 fines to passengers who have arrived in the country without this evidence. The Department of the Treasury, however, has not yet received a single penny for these infractions.
According to Health, over 88% of travelers comply with the presentation of the negative result at the time of entering Puerto Rico. “Previously, those who presented the test did not exceed 50%,” said Health Secretary Carlos Mellado in written statements.
As reported, they have held meetings with the Tourism Company, the Luis Muñoz Marín airport operating company, Aerostar and the Port Authority to increase the level of compliance of travelers.
“The Office of Investigations (of Health) is making surprise visits to those who do not present a negative result to the molecular test,” said Mellado.
According to Health, In the past two weeks, 191,558 travelers have arrived, of which more than 18,000 have not complied with the requirement to present the negative result to covid-19 and must pay the fine of $ 300.
“The collection is not immediate. We will be proactive in recovering the fine. I am in constant conversation with the Secretary of the Treasury so that later on he can use all the tools that the law allows him to recover this fine. These tools range from withholding payments to contractors and government supplies or reducing taxpayer reimbursement payments, “said Mellado.
In his opinion, the result of the initiative has been positive.
“In a short time we are seeing good results, and above all and more importantly we have promoted that travelers – both tourists and residents (of Puerto Rico) – take a diagnostic test to detect covid-19 when they arrive on the island,” he said. the holder of Health.
On April 28, the Health administrative order that establishes the fine of $ 300 for passengers who do not arrive with a negative result for covid-19 in the molecular test, carried out no more than 72 hours before the trip to Puerto Rico, came into force. .
“Said traveler will have a term of two days to go to a laboratory and perform the molecular test. The Department of Health will provide a list of laboratories by region to which passengers can go and perform said test without having to present a referral or medical order, ”the order indicates.
“The passenger will have to remain in quarantine until they have the negative result of the molecular test and report it to the concerned agencies. Once the traveler obtains a negative molecular test, he will proceed to upload it to his traveler statement digitally. By doing so, the system will consider the requirement of the (Health) department to be fulfilled and will proceed to erase the fine from the system ”, establishes the guideline.
The order also establishes that passengers with positive results for COVID-19 “will be responsible for assuming all medical expenses and extension of their stay, since the traveler will have to stay in isolation until the Department of Health determines so.”
Hacienda has not received anything
The spokesperson for the Treasury, Vilmar Trinta, reported yesterday in written statements that “in the collectives they have not received payments of fines to travelers for proof of covid-19.”
When the government’s strategy to demand a negative test for covid-19 or be fined was announced, the Executive was questioned on several occasions how they would manage to collect the fine from passengers who do not reside on the island. Governor Pedro Pierluisi responded then that the The process would be refined “on the fly” and he admitted that it remained to be determined, for example, how the billing information would be retained from these passengers who are not obliged to hand over this data to the government.
He added that the fine warning could serve as a deterrent for the thousands of travelers who continue to arrive on the island, and there was talk about creating an alert system for passengers who do not comply with the order. The government also maintains in force the imposition of a fine for not using the mask.
Health reported 816 new cases of covid-19 yesterday, between confirmed and probable. It also reported nine additional deaths from the virus. 2,421 people have already died on the island due to covid-19.
There were 244 adults and 22 pediatric patients hospitalized with coronavirus yesterday. Of the total, 70 adults were in intensive care and 51 adults and one minor were connected to a ventilator.