How Puerto Rico Adapted to the Times and Is Preparing to Reopen the Country For Tourism

Puerto Rico's novel coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines have been very strict. The island took dramatic steps to control the virus and protect its residents; as of July 2019, 21 percent of Puerto Rico's population was over the age of 65, which puts them at a higher risk of contracting and falling seriously ill from COVID-19.

Governor Wanda Vásquez Garced established a task force to look into how the virus would affect the island on Feb. 29, 2020, and the government took the position that every suspicious case was to be treated as a COVID-19 case and kept in isolation for 14 days while they waited for test results. On March 12, the governor declared a state of emergency and activated the Puerto Rico National Guard to help monitor travelers.

Citizens of Puerto Rico were put on a curfew and all nonessential businesses were ordered to close. Visitors and residents were told to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary. The island saw its biggest spike in cases at the beginning of June, but has managed to keep the death toll relatively low, with an overall 6,820 confirmed cases and 149 deaths as of writing.

Now, the country has started slowly reopening, with tourism set to officially resume on July 15. Currently, face masks remain mandatory when in public. Beaches are open, but groups are not allowed, and social distancing is being enforced. Some spas, museums, and movie theaters are open, and restaurants have increased their capacity to 50 percent, as well as hotel pools. All commercial flights have been diverted to Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, with Rafael Hernández Airport in Aguadilla, and Mercedita International Airport in Ponce are expected to reopen on July 6.

The Puerto Rican National Guard is still at the Luis Muñoz Marín airport continuing to help improve health controls for arriving passengers and are even offering voluntary COVID-19 tests. Arriving passengers may be asked to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival; however, it's expected that the government will adjust some measures before the July 15 reopening.

Currently, curfew is still being enforced until June 30 from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. with emergency exceptions.

The health and safety of visitors and residents remain a top priority, and the tourism industry in Puerto Rico is continuing updating important information should you choose to travel to the island once tourism resumes.