Beaches, restaurants, hair salons, churches, and shopping areas will begin to open up.

By Andrea Romano
May 22, 2020
Jose Jimenez/Getty

Puerto Rico is starting to reopen next week to help revitalize the country's economy as well as prepare for the return of tourists.

According to The Associated Press, the government of Puerto Rico announced on Thursday that it intends to reopen businesses and public areas such as beaches, restaurants, hair salons, churches, and shopping areas beginning on May 26.

Movie theaters and gyms will still remain closed after next week, and malls are scheduled to reopen on June 8. Restaurants and retail outlets will only be allowed to operate at limited capacity, The AP reported. Social distancing guidelines will still apply to both locals and tourists.

Despite the openings, the country's 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew will remain in effect until June 15.

Visitors will be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, regardless of symptoms, as well as undergo screenings and temperature checks, according to Puerto Rico's tourism site.

Even though Puerto Rico’s Governor Wanda Vázquez announced on Thursday that the island has “flattened the curve,” health experts have voiced their concern that Puerto Rico has not met the proper benchmarks to indicate that the virus was under control, the AP reported. The island has reported about 2,900 cases and 126 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins' data.

However, the reopening, as limited as it may be, could help aid Puerto Ricans. Economist José Caraballo told the AP that the island has lost somewhere between $6 billion to $12 billion and unemployment has spiked to 40 percent.

Amid the pandemic, people have been encouraged to practice social distancing and all large gatherings were suspended until the end of May. This meant that all public gathering places, including “theaters, malls, casinos, bars, gyms, attractions such as tours, national parks, and public beaches,” were closed, according to Discover Puerto Rico. Special hours were also put in place for essential businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies.