Puerto Rico

‘Chaotic Situation': Puerto Ricans Indignant at Tourists Breaking COVID Mandates

Experts and residents worry that tourists’ unwillingness to follow Covid-19 measures could reverse the island's successful efforts at containing the virus

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Scenes of American tourists violating Covid-19 measures and mandates while visiting Puerto Rico have stirred indignation among residents worried that their efforts to control the pandemic may be marred as more visitors arrive on spring break trips.

Israel Meléndez Ayala, 34, a longtime resident of Old San Juan, saw many tourists without masks when he and his partner went out to walk their dog this week.

"They were behaving as if no one else existed in Old San Juan," Meléndez Ayala told NBC News. "I don't have a problem with people trying to have a good time, but they have to be respectful. We're still living in the middle of a pandemic, and people can't come here and act as if the virus doesn't exist. ... They have a sense of entitlement and apathy I don't understand."

Puerto Ricans in the U.S. territory have avoided overwhelming their already fragile health care system during the pandemic so far, mainly because of extraordinary measures the local government put in place early on — and people’s willingness to comply with them. Puerto Rico was one of the first U.S. jurisdictions to issue a mask mandate and currently has the longest pandemic-related curfew compared to any state.

Read the full story on NBCNews.com.

Contact Us