The Abinader government has had to do a lot of explaining. Decree 698-20 on the toughening of restrictions to avoid the spread of Covid-19 virus is confusing. When Vice President Raquel Peña presented it on Tuesday, 15 December 2020 at the Presidential Palace, no questions by journalists were allowed
Communications director of the Presidency Milagros Germán on 17 December 2020 tried to better explain the new Decree 698-20 and its new restrictions to mobility during the Christmas and New Year holiday season.
The National District and the provinces of Santo Domingo, Santiago, Duarte (San Francisco de Macorís), La Vega and Puerto Plata are now under an extended curfew. This is everyday from 7pm to 5am. The rest of the country continues under the previous curfew of 9pm to 5am on weekdays and 7pm to 5am on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
This means that all public spaces – restaurants, bars and stores – need to be closed by the corresponding curfew time. This shuts down all parks and beach areas, too.
The authorities explain that in Greater Santo Domingo (National District + Santo Domingo province), Santiago, Duarte, La Vega and Puerto Plata people have a grace period of two-hours, until 9pm to get home. The free transit period means they will not be arrested for violation of curfew when commuting.
The authorities say that people gatherings of more than 10 persons in public spaces and private spaces of public use. The authorities explain that in places such as restaurants and bars, at no time can more than 10 people occupy a table. The space must keep to the regulation of 70% of its capacity.
The authorities say that permits for health care providers, and restaurant chefs and food delivery people are still in effect. Restaurants are allowed to sell food for home delivery up to 12pm. Likewise, persons headed to take a flight after curfew are also allowed and just need to present their ID and airline ticket.
The authorities say that on 24 and 31 December all businesses and public spaces are shut down as of 7pm. People will be able to commute to their homes up to 1am. This means you can visit friends and family but have to be back in hour own home by 1am of the next day.
The decree also bans alcoholic beverage sales after 6pm.
The National Police has instructed its agents to not release persons detained for violating curfew, mask-wearing and the ban on alcoholic beverage sales after 6pm unless they have due authorization from the Justice Department.
The prosecutors have established new charges for those in violation. Some of the charges are: RD$5,000 for curfew violation, RD$2,000 for being in an entertainment center after curfew deadline, RD$100,000 for hosting a private party during curfew hours, RD$50,000 for an unauthorized bus transporting persons, RD$30,000 for an an authorized cargo vehicle circulating during curfew hours. The charges can be paid online.
Decree 698-20 does not affect mobility of those staying at resorts around the country that are under separate health protocols.
17 December 2020