The new measures against the coronavirus ordered by Governor Wanda Vázquez cause the economic crisis faced by many of the businesses since last March to be much deeper and difficult to overcome.
The situation is such that the owner of Helsinky Salón de Activities de Bayamón, Orlando Díaz, affirmed that “I’m going crazy.”
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 being treated like restaurants. Even so, he specified that “all the people postponed the activities for next year. The same date, but next year ”.
“Six months without work, believe me, it is not easy and without income,” added the merchant, while thanking God that the place where his business is located is out of commission 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. She pointed out that there they would be required to use a mask continuously 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, Vázquez in his new executive order established that there will be a total closure of discos, cinemas, theaters, bars, activity halls or any place that encourages crowds.
The hammocks are other restricted businesses, especially for the sale of alcoholic beverages.
Erlica Rodríguez Figueroa, who manages the Los Pinos Lechonera, in Guavate, Cayey, explained that sales have decreased by 80% due to government restrictions against the coronavirus.
“Right now Sundays with Prohibition is terrible. Bar employees are affected. We limit ourselves only to food service and tourists have to be explained ”, he commented.
He said that with the Puerto Ricans they have not had problems, because they prefer to buy their food to go and stop to eat in a place designed to observe the landscape.
“They prefer to eat it in cars. They say they want to get out of their home and that is the distraction, “she said.
Rodríguez Figueroa urged government aid for businesses for the sale of prepared foods. He said that an alternative is to eliminate the Sales and Use Tax of 7%.
“That could help us a little financially,” he said, stating that more guests would arrive.
The executive director of the Restaurant Association, Gadiel Lebrón, pointed out that this proposal would be a benefit to the consumer at this time of economic problems and the complications caused by the near passage of Storm Isaías.
“Operating a restaurant in these times of pandemic and the order that remained in effect today is definitely a challenge, because it limits and basically cancels dinner at night. By placing an order not to have alcoholic beverages after 7:00 pm, it makes it difficult for you to have dinners for everyone. Most of the people accompany their dinner with a bottle of wine or some alcoholic beverage and by custom 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 carried out studies that indicate that 20% to 30% of the restaurants that will not be able to overcome this process and will end up closing,” explained Lebrón.
The representative of the restaurants indicated that they are waiting to be summoned to a meeting to update the operating protocol of the restaurants imposed by the Department of Health last April, as well as to advocate for a “balance between what we all want, what it is the health of the people and the economic health of the country ”.
Casinos will remain closed
Casinos are another of the sectors that will remain closed, according to the governor imposed on this new executive.
Ismael Vega, General Manager of the Casino Metro, at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel and Casino, pointed out the order is “unfair.”
He explained that the 16 casinos on the island were prepared and invested a lot of money to start operations at the beginning of July. Two weeks later, they were ordered shut down, causing their 3,000 employees 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 a focus (of infection) and there was a brutal lack of government control in areas that had to be addressed. This extension is more than unfair ”, he pointed out.
The casino manager said he was frustrated because they made a large investment to stay closed. He noted that, meanwhile, adult entertainment machines continue to operate without any restriction or measure to prevent contagion.
“The adult entertainment machines that are out there realengas, without protocol or distancing. They have continued to operate since day one. Let them check to see if there is a machine turned off, if there is a sanitizer. Those machines have continued to operate, while we remain 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 supervision in the sectors that truly represent a source of contagion.
He pointed to the people who celebrated the 4th of July, held political caravans and flocked to the beaches as the real culprits for the surge in COVID-19 cases. 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 last executive order is that they did not impose major restrictions, beyond not being able to operate on Sundays, as ordered in mid-July. .
“Thank goodness they did not add additional restrictions,” he said, on the executive order that came into effect today, Saturday.
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 a source of contagion.
“We understand that shops can be kept open on Sundays without having a significant effect,” he said.
He asked the governor for the next executive order to contemplate letting the shops open on Sundays.
“As businesses have suffered so much, because every little bit that can be helped is significant,” he said.