Puerto Rico Extends Vaccination Necessities To The Meals And Leisure Sectors | Jackson Lewis PC
Puerto Rico made COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for other industries after Governor Pedro R. Pierluisi expanded vaccination requirements for healthcare and hospitality workers from August 16, 2021. According to the new regulation (EO-2021-063), restaurants, theaters and other facilities in the catering and entertainment industry will have to meet the requirements for mandatory vaccination from 23 August 2021.
New demands on employees
EO-2021-063 implements the following vaccination regulations:
- All theaters, cinemas, coliseums, convention centers, leisure centers, restaurants and places where food or drink is served (e.g. bars, kiosks, sports bars, fast food, food courts and cafeterias, etc.) and contractors (but not suppliers), who work physically on site. Insured persons must prove by August 23 that they have received at least the first dose of the vaccine. You must be fully vaccinated by October 7th.
- The employer is obliged to confirm the vaccination by looking at the vaccination card or a document showing that the employee has completed or started the vaccination. Employees must provide proof of vaccination to enter the workplace.
- Employees who are not vaccinated due to the exceptions listed below or who do not provide proof of vaccination must submit a weekly COVID-19 negative test result of a test carried out within the last 72 hours or a positive COVID-19 test result within the last three months and proof of the Recovery.
Exceptions to the mandatory vaccination requirements of EO-2021-063 for employees include:
- Employees with compromised immune systems or medical contraindications that prevent vaccination, subject to the following conditions:
- A Puerto Rico licensed physician must certify that the person has a medical condition that prevents vaccination and indicate the duration of the medical contraindication and whether it is permanent or temporary.
- If the contraindication is temporary, the person must comply with the compulsory vaccination once the contraindication ceases.
- Employees with religious beliefs against vaccinations, subject to:
- Making an affidavit under penalty of perjury if the person and the clergyman or ecclesiastical leader declare that the person’s religious beliefs prevent the vaccine from being given.
- If the religion does not have a minister or ecclesiastical leader, the person must make an affidavit explaining their sincere religious beliefs.
Employees who do not meet these requirements and do not fall under one of the exceptions may not be physically present in the work area. The employer may take appropriate action, including allowing the employee to take any applicable paid or unpaid leave.
New requirements for visitors
EO-2021-063 requires proof of vaccination for people attending one of the above facilities. It also provides for the following:
- Starting August 23, owners must verify that visitors meet any of the following conditions:
- The person is fully vaccinated and has proof of vaccination.
- The individual presents a negative COVID-19 test result from a test done within the last 72 hours prior to visiting the facility.
- The person presents a positive COVID-19 test result for the past three months and evidence of recovery.
- Minors under the age of 12 who cannot be vaccinated do not have to meet the listed requirements.
- Visitors who use delivery, roadside pickup, or restaurant pickup (including fast food, food courts, bars, sports bars, etc.) and therefore do not consume food or drink at the facility are not required to meet the listed requirements.
- People who do not meet these requirements cannot enter the facility.
Restaurants (including fast food, food courts, bars, sports bars, etc.), theaters, cinemas, Colosseums, convention centers, leisure centers, and any other facility that serves food or drink that does not meet visitor requirements must increase capacity by 50 percent based on the 2018 Puerto Rico Building Code and fire department regulations.
EO 2021-063 requires institutions to post the confidential health department number and email to report violations. The facility must also post a notice when the site checks vaccination status and requests test results. If the company does not comply with the inspection, it must indicate the number of persons approved in the company.
Failure to comply with EO 2021-063 could result in fines of up to $ 5,000, six months in jail, or both, at the discretion of a court.
Jackson Lewis attorneys closely monitor updates and changes in legal requirements and guidelines and are available to employers to help overcome the complexities.