Puerto Rico Expands COVID-19 Booster Requirement

By Juan Felipe Santos and Carlos J. Saavedra-Gutiérrez © Jackson Lewis January 11, 2022
LIKE SAVE
woman getting vaccine

A surge in positive COVID-19 cases in Puerto Rico has Gov. Pedro R. Pierluisi issuing yet another round of executive orders, including one that expands the number of workers who must obtain COVID-19 booster shots.

Executive Order 2021-87 covers workers in the public safety and security settings (including police, firefighters, and other first responders) and certain commercial private commercial establishments (including restaurants, bars, fast food, food courts, cafeterias, supermarkets and gas station markets). Covered workers must get a COVID-19 booster shot on or before Jan. 31.

Similar to the prior executive order, individuals are eligible for the booster shot, if they were:

  • Vaccinated against COVID-19 using any of the two-dose FDA-approved or authorized vaccines and six months have passed their last dose.
  • Vaccinated against COVID-19 using the one-dose FDA-authorized vaccine and two months have passed since their dose.

Individuals who are not eligible to get a booster shot as of the issuance of Executive Order 2021-87 (Dec. 31, 2021), because of a medical condition or any other reason, must get their booster shot within 30 days after they become eligible to do so.

Exceptions

Exceptions are provided for medical and religious reasons but only to covered individuals in the public sector. In the case of private-sector covered workers, if they do not get a booster shot by the specified deadlines, they must comply with requirements from Executive Order 2021-75 by presenting a negative COVID-19 test result at least every seven days or certified proof of recovery from COVID-19 within the last three months. Workers who do not comply with the booster requirement or present one of the two acceptable alternatives cannot be allowed to work in person.

In case of private-sector commercial establishments, the term "employee" is to be interpreted liberally to include any person who physically works in a location, except suppliers. The term includes persons who provide services on a voluntary basis.

Other Executive Orders

Finally, Pierluisi also issued two additional executive orders that affect private-sector establishments. Executive Order 2021-86 prohibits the operation of certain businesses from midnight to 5:00 a.m. Exceptions include supermarkets, operations that do not receive visitors, health services establishments, security and transportation services, gas stations, among others. It also prohibits the sale and consumption of alcohol from midnight to 5:00 a.m. Executive Order 2021-86 went into effect on Jan. 4 and expires on Jan. 18.

Executive Order 2021-85 orders certain private commercial establishments to operate at reduced capacities. Covered establishments (including restaurants, bars, theaters and cinemas) must operate at 50 percent capacity. If these establishments operate in an open-air setting, they must operate at 75 percent capacity. These requirements are in place regardless of the vaccination status of both workers and visitors, and establishments must continue to require visitors to present proof of vaccination or negative test results. Executive Order 2021-85 went into effect on Dec. 30, 2021, and its capacity requirements expire on Jan. 16.

Violations

Failure to comply with some of these executive orders may result in fines of up to $5,000, six months in jail, or both, at the discretion of a court.

Juan Felipe Santos and Carlos J. Saavedra-Gutiérrez are attorneys with Jackson Lewis in San Juan, Puerto Rico. © 2022 Jackson Lewis. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission. 

LIKE SAVE

SHRM HR JOBS

Hire the best HR talent or advance your own career.

SPONSOR OFFERS

HR Daily Newsletter

News, trends and analysis, as well as breaking news alerts, to help HR professionals do their jobs better each business day.