Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Officials in Guatemala ease certain COVID-19 restrictions from July 27; nightly curfew reduced to 2100-0400.

  • Alert Begins: 27 Jul 2020 11:59 AM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 10 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions, heightened security

Officials in Guatemala have eased certain restrictions, put in place to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), from July 27. The new directives stipulate that a daily curfew will be reduced to 2100-0400, including at weekends; previous measures that ordered a total lockdown from 1400 Saturdays through 0500 Mondays have been lifted.

Officials have also lifted movement restrictions nationwide, and residents will be allowed to use private vehicles throughout the week, without a limit based on license plates. Additionally, authorities have launched a four-tier alert system, which divides the country according to the level of COVID-19 activity in each municipality. The alert levels range from Red, the highest, to Green, the lowest, and will be reviewed every two weeks.

Under the Red alert level, public transport may operate at 50 percent capacity, malls can open to allow a maximum of 10 customers inside a store, and restaurants may offer indoor service to one person per every 10 square meters (108 square feet). Religious services may open for a maximum of 10 people, and markets can continue operating with social distancing measures and offering certain hours for customers older than 60 years of age. Gatherings of more than 10 people are not allowed. Between July 27-Aug. 9 there will be 158 municipalities at Red, including Guatemala City, Mixco, Coban, Villa Nueva, San Juan Sacatepequez, San Miguel Petapa, Villa Canales, Jalapa, Escuintla, and Jutiapa.

Under the Orange alert level, public transport may also operate only at 50 percent capacity, and markets must also maintain social distancing measures and offer certain hours exclusively for residents at higher risk. Restaurants may offer additional capacity, and malls can open at 50 percent capacity. Gatherings of more than 10 people are banned. Between July 27-Aug. 9, there will be 109 municipalities at Orange, including San Pedro Carcha and Chichicastenango.

Under the Yellow alert level, public transport and malls may operate at 75 percent capacity, and restaurants may offer additional indoor services. Between July 27-Aug. 9, there will be 73 municipalities at Yellow alert, including Barillas and Chiche. No municipality is currently at Green, under which most restrictions will be lifted.

Starting Aug. 3, most public offices will open between 0700-1500, and authorities urge private companies to operate between 0900-1700. Residents must continue to use a protective mask that covers their mouth and nose while in public; failure to do so may result in a fine.

The government maintains its temporary entry ban on all nonresident foreign nationals and the suspension of all international passenger flights until further notice. Air cargo and emergency flights are exempt. Guatemalan citizens and residents are allowed to enter the country but will be subject to a 15-day quarantine. All entries and departures must be made by land through border crossings with Mexico and Belize.

Background and Analysis
Guatemala's restrictive measures are similar to actions taken by other governments globally in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic March 11. Should the number of COVID-19 cases significantly increase, officials could tighten existing measures or reapply the relaxed restrictions. Likewise, a continued low number of cases may result in the relaxation of restrictions.

Follow all official instructions. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions.

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.

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