Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Guatemala extends movement and business restrictions, and 1800-0400 curfew, as of May 4 due to COVID-19. Other measures remain in place.

This alert affects Guatemala

This alert began 04 May 2020 09:30 GMT and is scheduled to expire 12 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

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

President Alejandro Giammattei announced a further extension of the nationwide 1800-0400 curfew and other restrictive measures, as of May 4, until further notice. The restrictions were due to expire May 3 and form part of the nation's ongoing effort to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Under the curfew, only essential workers such as security force members, healthcare staff, and those transporting food to markets will be allowed out of their homes.

Giammattei also announced that small shopping centers and convenience stores will be permitted to open under strict sanitation and social distancing protocols; however, large shopping malls will need to remain closed. Other existing measures will remain in place, including the closure of most public offices and private businesses; the suspension of all sporting, cultural, and religious events; and a ban on visits to retirement homes and prisons. Supermarkets, pharmacies, and fuel stations will remain open, as well as companies related to food, health products, energy, security, telecommunications, and banks. All businesses must remain closed 1800-0400, except pharmacies, fuel stations, and other essential services. All public transport remains suspended. Residents must use a mask that covers their mouth and nose while in public; failure to do so may result in a fine.

The government is maintaining international and internal movement restrictions, which exclude cargo and emergency transit. The temporary entry ban on all nonresident foreign nationals and the suspension of all international passenger flights will continue until further notice. Guatemalan citizens and residents are allowed to enter the country but will be subject to a 15-day quarantine on arrival. All entries and departures must be made by land, through border crossings with Mexico and Belize. Interdepartmental travel is permitted, except for residents in Chimaltenango, El Progreso, Guatemala, and Sacatepequez departments.

The measures in place will significantly impact business and transport in the country. Authorities will likely keep an increased police presence deployed to enforce the restrictions. All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice.

Background and Analysis
Guatemala's restrictive measures are similar to actions other governments are taking globally in response to the spread of COVID-19, a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. Giammattei has indicated that on May 6, he will announce a plan to gradually reopen the economy by relaxing some restrictions on nonessential business such as those in the construction and manufacturing industries. Should the number of COVID-19 cases significantly increase, officials may reapply the relaxed restrictions. Likewise, a continued low number of cases may result in further 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. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers. Plan for possible ground shipping and travel delays; seek alternative routes and shipping methods for time-sensitive cargo. Avoid all demonstrations.

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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