Two airports closed to commercial flights have reopened in Puerto Rico after being shut down for more than a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Rafael Hernandez Airport in Aguadilla and Mercedita International Airport in Ponce are back in business, giving residents and visitors additional options to reach the island.
Puerto Rico has gone a little over a year with just one airport — Luis Munoz Marin Airport in San Juan — as its lone port of air traffic entry.
The airports reopened earlier this month with new safety measures in place, including infrared cameras, according to Joel Piza, executive director of the Puerto Rico Ports Authority.
Commercial flights to the airports were halted last March when the coronavirus outbreak began to take off. Private, charter, and cargo planes continued to use the airports.
During the partial shutdowns, the Transportation Security Administration installed acrylic barriers and technology designed to eliminate physical contact between passengers and TSA workers.
“We are focused on the health and safety of our workforce and the traveling public,” Mariely Loperena Moure, Federal Security Director for Puerto Rico, said in a statement. “The TSA is honored to be screening all travelers out of Ponce and Aguadilla once again.”
Aguadilla is the second-busiest airport on the island and has service to the Lower 48 on both Spirit Airlines from Fort Lauderdale and JetBlue from New York.
Located on the northwest coast of Puerto Rico, Aguadilla is home to the popular Rincon beach and is considered one of the top surfing locations in the Caribbean.
Ponce is a smaller coastal city on the southern side of the island.
Visitors to Puerto Rico are required to have had a negative COVID test within 72 hours of arrival as part of the island’s protocols. A test is not needed to return to the mainland since it is part of the United States and exempt from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirements.
Visitors will find public beaches and natural reserves open following social distancing guidelines, with public alcohol consumption banned. Supermarkets, pharmacies, and gas stations are also open.
Restaurants, casinos, museums, hotel pools, and other gathering spots are operating at 50 percent capacity. Bars, however, are closed.
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