Puerto Rico Governor Issues Executive Orders Requiring COVID-19 Vaccinations

Published date21 September 2021
Law FirmOgletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart
AuthorMr Carlos G. Colόn-Machargo and Ethan G. Isaac

In order to slow the transmission rate of COVID-19 and safeguard the health of people in Puerto Rico, Governor Pedro Pierluisi recently issued a series of executive orders mandating COVID-19 vaccinations in certain instances. The orders are directed to contractors of the executive branch of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and operators and employers in certain sectors of the economy on the island as discussed below.

Industries Affected

The mandates currently apply to the following contractors, employees, and patrons:

  • All contractors of the executive branch of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
  • Employees of hospitals, laboratories, emergency clinics, health clinics, health centers, physicians' offices, therapy centers blood banks, pharmacies, adult healthcare centers, and cannabis dispensaries
  • Employees and guests of hotels, inns, and short-term rentals
  • Employees, contractors (but not suppliers), and patrons over 12 years of age of restaurants, bars, theaters, cinemas, stadiums activity centers, gyms, beauty salons, barber shops, spas, child care centers, casinos, grocery stores, and convenience stores

Requirements

The executive orders require that a covered employee, contractor, or patron provide to covered employers and business operators proof of (i) vaccination, (ii) a negative result of a COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours using an antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT), or (iii) a positive result within the last 3 months along with a doctor's note and additional documentation showing full recovery in order to be able to access their place of employment or the business establishment.

Employer Obligations

Employers have an obligation under the executive orders to request that employees get vaccinated. An employee or patron may provide proof of vaccination by showing the employer or operator the COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the Vacu ID, an electronic verification card issued by the government of Puerto Rico.

In order to be compliant, employees may show their employers that they have obtained at least the first dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine by the date that the specific executive order covering them became effective, and then present proof of full vaccination by September 30, 2021, in the case of government contractors and workers in the healthcare and hospitality industries; by October 7, 2021, for employees of restaurants, bars, theaters, cinemas...

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