SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rican government announced on Wednesday that the curfew instituted after Hurricane Maria devastated the island on Sept. 20 will be reduced to the hours between midnight and 5 am.
The move is aimed at boosting economic activity in tandem with the gradual restoration of services, Gov. Ricardo Rossello told a press conference.
Toward the same end, the Puerto Rican treasury will advance disbursements originally scheduled for Oct. 15, including public employee wages, pensions and payments to small and mid-size firms that supply the government with goods and services, the governor said.
“This will help economic activity to recover on the path to the re-establishment of normality,” he said.
Things are improving, albeit slowly, Rossello said, adding that Tuesday’s visit to the island by US President Donald Trump allowed the federal government to get a clearer picture of the damage caused by Maria, which is blamed for 34 deaths in Puerto Rico.
Though the visit lasted only a few hours, the governor said that the destruction Trump saw from the air during a helicopter flight over the hardest-hit areas made a deep impression on the president.
The proportion of the population with electricity has edged up to 8.6 percent, while 76 percent of gas stations and 70 percent of supermarkets are up and running, Rossello said.
The governor was joined in front of reporters by Alejandro de la Campa, the regional head of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), who said that emergency supplies of food and drinking water were being distributed at a rapid pace.
De la Campa said that FEMA’s priority is providing diesel fuel for the generators powering the island’s hospitals.
Administrators at San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport said on Wednesday that while repairs are ongoing, the terminal is back to operating 24 hours a day.