President Danilo Medina asks Congress to declare a State of Emergency for the next 15 days
President Danilo Medina will ask the National Congress today for the declaration of a national State of Emergency for the advance of the coronavirus, which has caused one death and 21 affected, and several dozen people under observation. Last night he announced a series of measures to try to contain COVID-19.
Medina explained that among the exceptional measures adopted, it was decided to close the country’s borders by land, sea and air, for the next 15 days, effective at 6 am on Thursday the 19th. “From that moment, only It will allow the entry of ferry planes for the departure of foreign citizens who want to return to their countries and the arrival of planes, cargo ships and fuels to guarantee supplies to the population, “he said.
The Government had already taken the decision to suspend for a month flights from European countries, China, Korea and Iran, as well as flights from the Dominican Republic to those countries, as well as the arrival of all cruises, in all ports and coasts of the Dominican Republic.
The president also specified that teaching is suspended in all school and university centers until next Monday, April 13.
However, he said that to guarantee the feeding of public school students, the School Feeding Program will remain in force. He added that the National Institute of Student Welfare (INABIE), in coordination with the Ministry of Education, will establish a mechanism so that the families of the students can withdraw from the educational centers the food rations that correspond to them according to the number of enrolled students.
While the Ministries of Education and Higher Education will report on the measures that will be taken to ensure that students can continue their training cycle, corresponding to the 2019-2020 school year, through virtual teaching and other initiatives.
Medina said that all the private laboratories that are duly certified will be able to carry out the test to detect the coronavirus, under the strict monitoring of the Ministry of Health, following the established protocols and promptly reporting the cases detected to the health authorities.
He added that more isolation centers necessary for the defense of public health are being enabled. He warned the population that we will not allow the alteration of public order to fulfill this mission of the State.
Likewise, he said that in relation to hospitals and clinics, visits and circulation of people are limited and that notification of cases is mandatory for professionals, clinics and hospitals, as established by the regulations of the Ministry of Public Health.
Private health service centers, if they so wish, are authorized in coordination with the Ministry of Health to enable isolation areas in their facilities.
While the Superintendency of Occupational Health and Risk and the Ministry of Labor, together with all the ARSs, agreed to support all the initiatives of the High Level Commission for the prevention of Coronavirus in the country.
Likewise, all the ARS undertake to add to their catalog of medical services, the test and care necessary to combat the coronavirus. “We have authorized the Ministry of Finance to take all measures to assist the pharmaceutical industry in order to support the production and import of drugs and supplies against the effects of the virus, in a way that guarantees supply to the population at reasonable prices.”
He announced that the Social Plan of the Presidency and the Economic Canteens will guarantee food and meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable population in the face of these special conditions.
Trade and exceptions
Medina reported that commercial activities are suspended for the next 15 days, with the exception of those dedicated to basic activities for the population: supermarkets, grocery stores, fuel stations, pharmacies, and commercial establishments that sell raw or cooked food, among others. Public and private medical service centers and medical laboratories were authorized to operate normally.
He said that any other type of company or business whose activity is considered vital in current circumstances can contact the Presidential High Level Commission, which will be announcing other additional measures in the coming days.
Medina announced that the National Police, the Ministry of Health and other competent authorities have precise instructions to ensure compliance with these measures, which he said are extraordinary, but necessary.
“Throughout the Public Administration, employees who are over 60 years of age and have a special health condition such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular or respiratory diseases must remain at home for the duration of the crisis. The rest of the employees will be alternated at 50% per week, except for the incumbents and those that are essential, unless someone with symptoms of the coronavirus is detected. We also request all productive sectors in all cases where possible, to implement remote work for at least 15 days, “he said.
He added that in cases where this is not possible, the flexibility of working hours will be implemented and it is recommended that they limit the attendance of their employees to the minimum necessary, considering taking shifts that allow avoiding the influx of many people.
He said that an exception period of 15 days in home isolation was established for all people who have been in the last two weeks in any of the places for which the suspension of flights has been established. This includes Dominican students. He specified that it is important that all people in quarantine take the necessary precautions to ensure that, if any of them is a carrier of the coronavirus, it does not have a chance to spread. He said that the Government launched a massive information campaign to the population, by way of non-contact, in order to safeguard social distancing.
“We are facing an unprecedented global health crisis, to which humanity must respond with responsibility and unity, putting above all the protection of people’s health and life. According to the evolution of the situation day by day, the Dominican Government has been taking steps in stages, following the recommendations of the international health authorities. For this reason, the doctors of the Armed Forces and the National Police have been guaranteeing the application of the health protocol in all access points to the country. In addition, with the promulgation of Decree 87-20, on February 26, we declared emergency purchases and contracts essential for the response to the virus. This has allowed us to carry out a series of preventive actions, including the purchase of drugs and supplies to detect the virus, as well as the empowerment of 2 hospital centers dedicated solely to receiving positive or suspected patients, and isolation areas in 15 health in different parts of the national territory ”.
Events and concentration
The president said that, following the protocols of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the practices underway in different countries, events and concentrations of all kinds are suspended for 15 days. This includes national and international events, public shows, cultural, artistic, and sporting events, as well as activity in bars and clubs, among others. In the case of restaurants, only the collection and home delivery of food will be allowed. The president reported that flea markets are also suspended throughout the national territory and binational markets in the border area.
Electoral proselytizing acts related to the holding of marches, rallies and caravans were also suspended, as previously reported to the presidential candidates. The measures include all government inaugurations, which have already been canceled and any other act planned by public authorities.
Medina also asked for the collaboration of all communication professionals and citizens, so that they disseminate only those information duly verified. “It is essential to avoid spreading rumors and false news, which could lead us, as individuals or as a group, from the correct course of action. We ask the entire population to agree to follow the directions, respect the 15-day exception period and limit their social contacts. Let us always remember that each protocol is designed solely for our protection and that of our loved ones, especially our elders and those who are most vulnerable or who are already in a delicate state of health. ”
He thanked all the men and women who, since this situation became known, work day and night to protect the Dominican population. He said that they are people who have not hesitated a moment to put all their dedication and dedication at the service of people, especially the most vulnerable, regardless of the number of hours of work or the effort required. “Let us all, as citizens, put our trust in each one of them. In the preparation of our doctors, our nurses and all the care personnel. In the capacity of those who are coordinating actions and in the service vocation of those who guarantee order. But, above all, we put all our faith in our own capacities, in what we are capable of overcoming united, the Dominicans, ”he said.
He added that the country is facing one of those moments in history that show the true greatness of human beings. “Being a Dominican has always meant facing challenges with courage and facing the future with optimism, and this time will be no exception. Let us have faith that this evil will not destroy us, not by my strength, nor by your strength, but by the power of God. ”
Medina said that he is aware that these measures will have consequences on economic activity, and that in order to guarantee the employment and income of all workers, food security and economic stability in the event of any eventuality, the government has taken the following measures:
For the sector that will be most affected by the closure of flights, the hotel sector, the DGII will temporarily stop applying the rate to the Advance Price Agreements (APA).
2.- Likewise, the payment of the annual income tax to be made in April by all companies that close the year in December will be allowed to be divided into four payments.
3.- Urgent facilities will be granted to make the payment of advance payments of the entire productive sector more flexible, in three installments immediately after the emergency period.
4.- The Ministry of Finance will coordinate any other necessary flexibility regarding the payment of tax obligations of companies and individuals, which could be deferred during the emergency period.
5.- For its part, the Monetary Board, which is in permanent session from today, will publish tomorrow, a first package of measures aimed at guaranteeing economic stability and the provision of liquidity for the country’s companies, from so that they can cope with the situation and also protect people’s jobs.
In addition, it designates the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Central Bank to coordinate with all the productive sectors the immediate application of these and other initiatives, if necessary.
Article 265.- State of Emergency. The State of Emergency may declare itself when events occur that disturb or threaten to seriously and imminently disturb the economic, social, or environmental order of the country, or that constitute public calamity.
Doctors from the Armed Forces and the National Police have been guaranteeing the application of the health protocol at all access points to the country.