Puerto Rico Gov. Vázquez Threatens With Stricter Measures If Citizens Ignore Safety Mandates


Image courtesy of Mercy Rodríguez

By Mivette Vega

May 26, 2020

People without distancing and protection on beaches, 9,000 without water due to reckless four-track vehicles, and an increase in criminality are the balance of Memorial Day weekend.  

Puerto Ricans filled public roads, beaches, and rivers as curfew stipulations relaxed during Memorial Day weekend.

Late on Friday, government secretary Antonio Luis Pabón Batlle announced via press release that snorkeling, swimming, windsurfing, surfing, paddleboarding, and the use of boats and sailing boats would be permitted during the long weekend.

The ordinance established that people should keep social distancing and follow the “keep moving” method on the beach. People were not allowed to remain stationary on the shore.

RELATED: How Puerto Rico Can Avoid a Spike in New COVID Cases

Photos and videos on social media showed how some did not follow the rules. Many gathered in the water without adequate distance or protection. Some videos show how people pretended to exercise when the police maritime division Fuerzas Unidas de Rápida Acción (FURA) approached them.

Many main roads were also packed with caravans of seniors and car clubs.

A police chase was reported on Saturday in Arecibo when young drivers recklessly raced motorcycles and four tracks on an avenue, while other cars passed by. The incident resulted in an injured police officer.

On Monday, Samuel Rosario Vega, the Arecibo regional director of the Puerto Rico Water and Sewer Authority (AAA, following its initials in Spanish), said that four-track drivers had contaminated the Camuy River. The water supply was dirtied with oil, leaving 9,000 customers without water service in Hatillo and Camuy. Users will not have water service until the end of the week. 


On Sunday, governor Wanda Vázquez condemned on Twitter the lack of awareness and consideration of some citizens, who could become infected by not following the safety rules.

“The conduct and social irresponsibility of various citizens show they are not clear about the consequences of their behavior on beaches, rivers, establishments, and even public roads. We are vigilant, and if this becomes the norm, we will take more restrictive measures,” Vázquez wrote.

The criminal activity also increased this weekend after carjackings, assaults, robberies, and murders were reported.

The second phase of Puerto Rico’s reopening started on Tuesday. People are able to eat at restaurants, go to beauty salons and barbershops, and access other services and businesses.

Puerto Rico’s Health Department reported on Tuesday 3,324 positive cases and 129 deaths in total.

The president of the College of Medical Technologies, Lillia Otero, warned today there are errors in the serological tests of COVID-19 used on the island, so the Health Department is relying on incorrect information to make decisions.

Otero said she’s waiting to meet with the secretary of the Health Department, Lorenzo González.

“We have requested to meet with the Secretary of Health through several ways of communication. The meeting has not been scheduled. We know he is busy. Still, he has met with other people—why hasn’t he given us a time? This meeting is very important. Time goes by and more and more mistakes are discovered. There are people administering the tests without knowing the proper procedure. And still, they’re providing results,” said Otero in an interview with Radio Isla this morning.

RELATED: How Puerto Rico Can Avoid a Spike in New COVID Cases



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