Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Officials in Guatemala extend existing nationwide restrictions and curfew until at least Sept. 21 due to COVID-19 activity.

Alert Begins 07 Sep 2020 11:03 AM UTC
Alert Expires 21 Sep 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions, heightened security

Summary
Officials in Guatemala have extended the existing restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) until at least Sept. 21. The nightly 2100-0400 curfew remains unchanged.

Authorities are also maintaining the nation's current four-tier alert system, which divides the country according to the level of COVID-19 activity in each municipality, with different degrees of restriction at each level. The alert levels range from Red, the highest, to Green, the lowest. As of Sept. 7, most of the country is under the Red Alert, including Guatemala Municipality, which includes Guatemala City; there are no countries in the Green Alert level. The status of each municipality is subject to change at short notice.

 

  • Red Alert: Public transport may operate at 50-percent capacity, malls can open to allow a maximum of 10 customers inside a particular 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.

 

  • Orange Alert: Public transport may also operate only at 50-percent capacity, and markets must also maintain social distancing measures while offering certain hours exclusively for residents at higher risk. Gatherings of more than 10 people are banned.

 

  • Yellow Alert: public transport and malls may operate at 75-percent capacity, and restaurants may offer additional indoor services.

 


Most public offices are open 0700-1500, and authorities urge private companies to operate 0900-1700. Residents must continue to use facemasks that cover their mouths and noses while in public; failure to do so may result in a fine. The sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited 1900-0500 nationwide. Religious services may be offered for up to one hour at a time.

The government maintains its temporary entry ban on all nonresident foreign nationals and the suspension of all international passenger flights; however, La Aurora International Airport (GUA) is expected to reopen to commercial passenger flights from Sept. 18. 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. Air cargo and emergency flights are exempt from the travel bans.

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.

Advice
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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