Puerto Rico Lifts Some Restrictions as Cases Plunge

The number of coronavirus cases in Puerto Rico has fallen sharply after rising to record highs in March and April.

U.S. Territory saw the worst outbreak of the pandemic this spring. The seven-day average of new cases reported each day rose from around 200 per day in mid-March to a high of 1,109 on April 20.

The surge was sparked by a clash of factors including the arrival of more contagious varieties, a flood of tourists on the spring break, and celebrations related to Holy Week.

In early April, Governor Pedro R. Pierluisi suspended personal lessons in schools, reduced capacity in restaurants and businesses, and postponed a night curfew to 10 p.m. He also urged tourists to show negative coronavirus tests or to be fined $ 300.

Since then, the numbers have improved dramatically. According to a New York Times database, the 7-day average of daily reported cases in Puerto Rico has decreased by more than 60 percent in the past 14 days. About 38 percent of people have received a dose of a Covid vaccine, and 26 percent are fully vaccinated.

Over a year ago, Puerto Rico was one of the first parts of the United States to lock up to contain the spread of the coronavirus. This was another blow to an island hit by the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017, including a nearly year-long loss of electricity; Earthquake in 2020; and an ongoing financial crisis.

On Thursday, Mr Pierluisi announced that personal school could be resumed, the night curfew would be postponed to midnight and the opening hours of the shops would be extended to 11 p.m. However, it left the stricter capacity constraints for some companies and the tourist test requirement.

Reopening too early contributed to some earlier peaks, said Mónica Feliú-Mójer, biologist and communications director at Ciencia Puerto Rico, a nonprofit group that supports Puerto Rican researchers.

Dr. Feliú-Mójer said that although cases appeared to be in decline, they were still significantly higher than they were before the recent surge. And she said she was concerned that the Mother’s Day holidays on Sunday could cause another spike.