Official easing of restrictions starts today, public transport resumes

New curfew hours are in effect as of today. Unauthorized circulation of people and vehicles is banned now from 7pm to 5am. Previously the curfew was from 5pm to 6am. A digital form is available at the Ministry of Public Health website for requesting permission to circulate during curfew hours.

The government mass transit services – Santo Domingo metro, skylift and OMSA buses – are back as of Wednesday, 20 May. But staff have orders to control boarding to no more than 30% of the capacity of the vehicles at any time. The services will be offered from 6am to 6pm.

The High Commission for Coronavirus Prevention and Control has announced the restart of public transport as part of a five-phase recovery plan. The first phase begins on 20 May 2020, the second phase on 3 June, the third phase on 17 June, the fourth phase on 1 July and the fifth phase on 24 August.

Diario Libre estimates that around 600,000 employees will resume work from now through July.

The High Commission pinpoints that the advancing in phases will depend on Dominicans continuing to adhere to physical distancing, wearing facial masks at work and in public spaces and transport, and maintaining hygiene measures such as constant hand washing to reduce the spread of the disease.

The first phase of the easing of restrictions is from 20 May to 3 June 2020. It allows a wide scope of businesses to reopen. Among these are beauty salons, barbers and medical doctors that are authorized to reopen their offices. Restaurants are still limited to delivery and takeout.

The breakdown by number of employees for those opening in phase one are:
•Micro enterprises (1 to 10 employees), up to 5 employees, or no more than 50% of the staff.
•Small enterprises (11 to 50 employees), up to 10 employees, and no more than 50% of the staff.
•Medium-sized enterprises (51 to 150 employees), up to 25% of the staff.
•Large enterprises (151 employees and more), up to 25% of the staff.

Persons older than 60 years and others suffering from high-risk diseases are considered vulnerable and should continue to work from home, with the exception of top executives whose work cannot be delegated.

The government announced that all activities that lead to crowding, including funeral wakes, sports, recreation, cultural and political campaign activities are banned. Likewise, schools, universities, movie houses and theaters. Access to beaches, public swimming pools and rivers and other recreational areas is still banned.

The government has announced new start-of-work hours to space out the use of public transport. These are:
7am: Supermarkets, pharmacies, construction, industry and manufacture, mining, farming, ports and airports.
8am: Government workers
9am: Hardware stores, vehicle dealerships, workshops, furniture and appliance stores, financial companies and services.

Phase two begins on 3 June with the incorporation of 100% of staff of microbusinesses, up to 75% of the staff of small businesses, up to 50% of staff of medium-sized businesses, and 50% of staff of large businesses. Betting businesses, with the exception of casinos, are authorized to reopen. Stores in shopping malls. Private collective transport is cleared to reopen.

Phase three begins on 17 June with the incorporation of 100% of staff of micro and small businesses, up to 75% of staff of medium-sized and large businesses.

Phase four begins on 1 July with the incorporation of 100% of staff of micro, small, medium-sized and large businesses. Only then is green light given for hotels to operate fully, airports to reopen, restaurants and gyms. There is no known date for the government authorization of regular flights in the Dominican Republic or abroad.

Phase five is set for 24 August. Entertainment and businesses that agglomerate people are authorized to open. The start of the school year is yet to be determined by the National Education Council and the Ministry of Higher Education.

The High Commission says that the use of facial masks at work is mandatory. People need to maintain physical distancing and hygiene measures.

Dr. Amado Alejandro Báez, executive director of the Presidential Committee for Covid-19 Response, says restrictions have been eased because of the collective efforts of the Dominican population. He said statistics show a consistently reduced spread in almost all provinces, with the exception of Greater Santo Domingo. Greater Santo Domingo gathers around a third of the population of the Dominican Republic. Dr. Báez urges people not to let their guard down. He said much has been achieved with the effort and sacrifices of all, and this could be lost if safety measures are relaxed.

Diario Libre editorial today warns the population to continue the safety measures taken over the past two months.

Follow the story in Spanish:
Rumba de la Tarde
Ministry of Public Health

Diario Libre
El Caribe
Listin Diario
Diario Libre editorial

20 May 2020