Puerto Rico orders businesses to require proof of vaccination
Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi (D) on Thursday ordered a series of businesses to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for their employees and patrons amid rising cases in the U.S. territory.
Under the new order, owners and managers must require proof of vaccination from workers at beauty salons, barber shops, nail salons, spas, gyms, day care centers, supermarkets, markets, casinos and gas station convenience stores.
Beauty salons, barber shops, nail salons, spas, gyms and casinos will also have to ask their customers for proof of vaccination — or reduce their occupancy by 50 percent.
“Amid the significant increase in contagion, as governor I have the responsibility and the duty to continue closely monitoring daily statistics released by the Department of Health and to take the necessary means to guarantee everyone’s health,” Pierluisi said in a Spanish-language statement.
“The vaccine has been tested and it works. Sadly we are seeing that 98 percent of those hospitalized and the great majority of deaths are people who are not vaccinated. We all have the individual responsibility to protect ourselves,” he added.
To qualify as vaccinated under the new regulations, employees will have to show they have received the first dose of an approved vaccine by Aug. 30 and proof of full vaccination by Oct. 15.
Employees with medical or religious exemptions will have to show weekly negative COVID-19 tests, or a positive test and a medical letter certifying their recovery.
Under Pierluisi’s order, employers who fail to check their employees’ or patrons’ vaccination status could face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
Puerto Rico’s seven-day average of COVID-19 cases has risen from a low of 34 in mid-June to 866 cases as of Wednesday.