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Puerto Rico to Limit Alcohol Sales, Gatherings Amid Pandemic

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico  — Puerto Rico’s governor on Monday announced new restrictions to fight a rise in COVID-19 cases, including closing certain private businesses and banning alcohol sales after midnight.

Social activities such as concerts, weddings, birthdays and anniversaries also will be banned during those hours, and people will be required to wear masks outside if there is a crowd of 50 or more. In addition, elective surgeries that require the use of intensive care units will be prohibited.

The measures will be in effect Sept. 2-23 and affect businesses including restaurants and theatres.

“We’re on the right track, but there was no alternative,” Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said, referring to a recent spike in cases and deaths blamed largely on the delta variant.

The announcement comes on the same day that people in the U.S. territory are required to start showing proof of vaccination to enter gyms, casinos, beauty salons and other places. In addition, employees at supermarkets are required to show proof of vaccination starting Monday.

The island of 3.3 million people is reporting a 10% positivity rate, compared with a 1.4% rate reported in late June, a number that Pierluisi called “unacceptable.”

Earlier this month, Pierluisi announced that he would require public workers, government contractors, hotel guests and staff, employees of restaurants or other enclosed places that serve food or drinks to to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. On Monday, he said he would continue pushing for people to be inoculated.

“Getting vaccinated is an act of citizen responsibility," he said.

Puerto Rico has reported more than 141,500 confirmed cases and more than 2,800 deaths. More than 2 million people are fully vaccinated.

Pierluisi noted that nearly 70% of those currently hospitalized and nearly 90% of those who have died are not vaccinated.

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