2020News

Having a change of heart? Government yet to announce details of new public health measures

How to take stringent measures when a presidential campaign is coming to a close? This is the closing week for the 5 July presidential campaign. The campaign is open through 2 July.

With the revocation of the curfew, many have caught campaign fever. President Danilo Medina, himself, is going all out to back its candidates in the last stretch of the presidential and congressional election.

Dr. Waldo Ariel Suero, president of the Dominican Medical Association (CMD) highlighted that despite the prudent words expressed by the President to the nation on Friday, 26 June 2020, the President on too many occasions has removed his mask while heatedly urging Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) voters to defend the win of the party in the elections. The President has not respected the physical distancing rule in this last week of campaigning. The participation of President Medina in the final PLD campaign efforts is causing major conglomerations of people.

The Ministry of Public Health had announced a press briefing on Saturday, 28 June at 4:30pm. This was called off. The coordinator of the High Commissioner the Prevention of Coronavirus, Presidency Minister Gustavo Montalvo, announced that the resolution with the new measures would be issued. As of 29 June it had not. The press briefing by Public Health Minister Rafael Sánchez Cárdenas at 10:30am was also called off on Monday. The statistics for the day were issued. The health situation is complicated in the Dominican Republic as the gradual opening has lead to more spread, especially in Greater Santo Domingo.

What is known is that the curfew ended on 27 June. And that on 30 June the National State of Emergency comes also to an end after 100 days of lockdown. It is also known that the Dominican Civil Aviation Institute (IDAC) issued the official Notam that authorizes airport opening and international flights.

At the same time, there is uncertainty and confusion about the new measures that will come with the announced opening of airports and aviation. New developments may lead the government to make changes in what had been planned. At present, there are many questions and the announced protocols and resolutions with the details have not been publicly available.

Sports Minister Danilo Diaz, who is also the ruling Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) delegate to the Central Electoral Board (JCE), says that the practice of golf, tennis and sailing is authorized as of Thursday, 2 July. Training in sports is authorized as of 8 July 2020, but only for athletes older than 15.

Meanwhile, it is almost as if thousands have forgotten these are Covid-19 times. Reports are that people went overboard after the end of the curfew on Saturday evening. People seemed to have forgotten all about social distancing, wearing masks and avoiding crowds, and headed to parks, the sea-fronting Malecon, and other gathering places to spend the hot summer evening.

The presidential and congressional campaigns close in three days, at midnight of 2 July, for the Sunday, 5 July election. This has been a campaign that for the most part has been happening on social media. Upwards of 70% of voters say they have decided who they will vote for.

Yet on Saturday, 27 June, with the end of the curfew, Dominicans took to celebrating, in violation of all the prudence and collective responsibility warnings. President Danilo Medina had given his speech, too, but when hitting the campaign trail did so forgetting what he had said and forgetting at times to wear his mask or not get to close to people.

Meanwhile, the director of the National Police added to the confusion. Despite the lack of the resolution with the details of what is in effect, Ney Aldrin Bautista Almonte said the Police “would be enforcing the resolution issued by the Ministry of Public Health that prohibits social, recreational and economic activities from 8pm to 5am every day of the week. Bautista Almonte made the statements in reference to the many celebrations of the end of curfew that took place especially in Greater Santo Domingo on Sunday. He noted the citizens gathered violating the health guidelines. The Police say during the 100 days of the duration of the curfew, they made 92,159 arrests of persons for violation.

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30 June 2020