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Puerto Rico to ease lockdown restrictions and reopen beaches

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Puerto Rico to ease lockdown restrictions and reopen beaches

On Jan. 8, new Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi will reopen beaches, marinas and pools for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

In an announcement on Jan. 6, Pierluisi said he also plans to end weekly Sunday lockdowns and ease curfew restrictions that were enacted back in March. The changes will be in effect for 30 days but can be altered or extended at any time.

Under the new rules, Puerto Rico residents must stay in their homes between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. When visiting beaches, they are banned from consuming alcohol and required to maintain social distancing guidelines with people who are not their family members.

Previous restrictions enacted by former Gov. Wanda Vázquez, including mandatory face masks, a closure of bars and limited capacity at restaurants, gyms, casinos and museums, will be kept in place.

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Pierluisi said the government’s goal is “to return to a new normal,” but he believes “preventative measures” are still needed at this time.

While many Puerto Rico residents welcomed the easing of restrictions, the U.S. territory’s tourism industry remained cautious. A notice posted on Discover Puerto Rico’s website said the company is “encouraging only essential travel at this time.”

Travelers to Puerto Rico are required to obtain a negative molecular COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of their arrival. They must also fill out a Travel Declaration Form on the Puerto Rico Health Department website. Visitors who fail to produce a negative test result on arrival must quarantine for 14 days.

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Puerto Rico has a population of approximately 3.2 million people. To date, there have been over 127,000 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases and 1,200 confirmed coronavirus-related deaths reported on the island.

Government health officials kicked off a COVID-19 vaccination effort in mid-December. So far, around 90,000 people have been vaccinated.

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