Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Guatemala revises and extends movement and business restrictions through at least April 27 due to COVID-19.

This alert affects Guatemala

This alert began 20 Apr 2020 02:10 GMT and is scheduled to expire 28 Apr 2020 06:00 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-related restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least April 27
  • Impact: Travel restrictions, significant transport and business disruptions, heightened security

Summary
Authorities in Guatemala revised and extended its curfew measures and other movement restrictions through at least April 27 as part of the nation's effort to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Beginning April 20, officials will enforce a nightly curfew 1800-0400, during which only essential workers such as security force members, healthcare staff, and those transporting food to markets will be allowed out of their homes. The curfew had previously run 1600-0400.

Authorities have also announced that residents of the departments of Chimaltenango, El Progreso, Guatemala, and Sacatepequez will not be allowed to travel to other departments April 20-27. Additionally, the small town of Ixcanal, El Progreso Department, has been cordoned off by police, and people are not allowed to enter or leave it. Residents of all other areas are allowed to engage in interdepartmental transit.

Other measures 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. All public transport has suspended services. 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 persons must use a mask that covers their mouth and nose while in public; failure to do so may result in a fine.

International travel restrictions remain in effect. Authorities have prohibited nonresident foreign nationals from entering the country until further notice and suspended all international passenger flights to the country since March 17. Guatemalan citizens and residents are allowed to enter the country but must self-quarantine immediately on arrival. All entries and departures must be made by land, through border crossings with Mexico and Belize. There are no restrictions on cargo transport.

Background and Analysis
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.

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. 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.

Resources
World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int