Puerto Rico Transportation Bureau Issues Additional Guidance on COVID-Related Shutdown and Curfew

On March 17, 2020, Luis D. García Fraga, Chief Commissioner of Puerto Rico’s Transportation and Other Public Services Bureau, issued guidance on Executive Order EO-2020-23 (EO) and the operations allowed during the lockdown resulting from the COVID-19 emergency crisis. The Bureau’s guidance focuses on the EO’s exemption for commercial businesses involved in the distribution chain of food, medicines, medical equipment and fuel.

Exempted from the EO’s restrictions are businesses involved in the transport of cargo and services related to the above distribution chains. The Bureau clarified that to prevent the accumulation of shipping containers with contents other than those authorized by the EO, these items may be towed from the dock to the warehouse or final destination, as long as such transportation is (i) authorized by the Ports Authority of Puerto Rico or the Treasury Department, (ii) carried out in compliance with the applicable state and federal regulations, and (iii) in compliance with these agencies’ instructions. Likewise, the Bureau stated that businesses dedicated to fuel distribution, such as transport vehicles of products derived from fuel and gas franchises, waste collection and transport carriers, are also exempt from the EO’s shutdown and curfew measures.

This is also the case with businesses providing essential services such as ambulances and hearses, but does not include providers of funeral services. Taxis, luxury transportation and drivers with transportation network businesses can provide services between 5:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., so long as the service is for the customer to acquire food, pharmaceutical products, and other essential products, or to attend medical appointments, travel to a laboratory, and to return home from these locations.  An exception to this time restriction is when the transport of passengers is to and from their homes/hotels and the international airport LMM or other Ports Authority terminal authorized to operate. By contrast, public vehicles and omnibuses, carpooling and excursions cannot operate at all until March 30. Towing operators can only transit to offer their authorized services from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and outside this period of time only if they are engaged to assist with an emergency situation. Finally, rental car business may only receive rental cars if they have in place a return method that will not involve direct contact with people.

The Bureau advised that all of those businesses allowed to operate must take all measures required by the Puerto Rico Government to avoid the contagion and spread of COVID-19.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.