Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in El Salvador extend the mandatory nationwide quarantine through May 5. Other restrictions, tight security in place.

This alert affects El Salvador

This alert began 07 Apr 2020 10:04 GMT and is scheduled to expire 20 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least May 5
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions, travel restrictions, increased security

Officials in El Salvador have extended the mandatory 24-hour nationwide quarantine through at least May 5. The quarantine was first announced March 21-April 20 as part of government efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Emergency services personnel, public transport workers, utilities workers, and journalists, among some essential personnel, are exempt from the restrictions. Freight transportation will not be affected. All markets, malls, public spaces, and offices will close, with the exception of grocery stores, pharmacies, fuel stations, and banks. President Nayib Bukele has ordered security personnel to detain all those who defy the quarantine order, and send them to containment centers for 30 days; hundreds of people have been detained and sent to containment facilities since the quarantine was first announced.

Other internal restrictions remain in place, including an order for persons 60 years of age or older, pregnant women, and people with health difficulties to stay in self-quarantine; and that restaurants operate exclusively via delivery and carry-out service. Only one person per family may be out in public at any given time for the purpose of obtaining food and other basic necessities. Schools and universities and many other nonessential businesses and organizations are closed. Some local governments have also closed public parks in an effort to avoid major gatherings.

The quarantine is an extension of the suspension of all international passenger flights and operations at El Salvador International Airport (SAL) through at least April 19. Cargo and humanitarian flights will continue to operate. Nonresident foreign nationals remain barred from entry to the country until further notice. Returning Salvadorian citizens and residents will be subject to strict quarantine measures.

The measures in place are significantly impacting business and transport in the country, with larger than usual police presence in the streets. All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

World Health Organization (WHO):

Ministry of Health: