San Juan is trying to overcome many hurdles these last few months after a spike in COVID-19 infections rattles the entire island. New variants of the virus have been seen throughout the island and may be a factor in the rise of infections. Many people are getting vaccinated, making some people lower their guard and not follow COVID safety protocols. The rise in infections has made San Juan implement stricter rules to combat the virus. Fines of $100 are being given to people who do not wear masks and signs stating the safety guidelines have been placed in various parts of San Juan for tourists and visitors. Most restaurants in the city have implemented changes to their opening hours and have limited the capacity of visitors in their establishments. The Department of Health has implemented an administrative order stating that any visitor to the island that does not present a negative test result for the COVID-19 virus will be fined $300.
All of this has been heavily enforced as a consequence to visitors not following the safety guidelines, which has caused many incidents with the locals. There is hope that the rise in tourism to the city can help San Juan economically, considering the pandemic has caused the second-highest economic drop in Puerto Rico since recordkeeping began in 1980, according to Puerto Rico economist José Caraballo. National parks and beaches are open to the public, which may have helped in the increase of visits to the city. Opinions of how the Puerto Rican government relaxed safety restrictions at the beginning of the year are wide ranging, many believing the time had come for this to occur while others believing it was all too soon. Regardless of opinions, the recent rise in COVID-19 infections was a warning to all that the rules need to followed in San Juan.
The good news is that vaccinations have been going strong on the island. Since the start of the year, the vaccine has been distributed to the elderly and people that work in jobs that are a high risk for COVID-19 contamination. And just recently, young people over the age of 16 are starting to get their vaccine shots as well. There is hope that with the mass population vaccinated on the island, it may help slow down the COVID-19 spikes, since vaccinated people may get the antibodies necessary to give temporary immunity to the virus. This makes it difficult for the virus to spread around person to person. At the end of April of this year, over 3,000 Moderna vaccine shots were administered to people over the age of 18 in San Juan Parque Central.
Seafarers House San Juan has done their part in trying to follow the rules and set guidelines during the pandemic. We have yet to open our doors to the public, but we have implemented safety procedures and rules for when we do. Our goal is to cooperate with the rules set in San Juan and hopefully have a positive impact during the recuperation of the city. The hurdles are high, but the people of San Juan are hoping to see the light at the end of the tunnel and that the slow progression towards beating this pandemic will eventually finalize in the city seeing better days ahead.