Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Guatemala extends movement restrictions through June 1 due to COVID-19. International and interdepartmental travel remains suspended.

This alert affects Guatemala

This alert began 25 May 2020 10:48 GMT and is scheduled to expire 01 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

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

Summary
Authorities announced that the previously issued movement and business restrictions will be extended through at least June 1 to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The restrictions were tightened May 15, likely in response to epidemiological considerations. The same restrictions will be imposed as follows:

0500 May 25-1700 May 29: A 1700-0500 curfew will be enforced daily. Residents will only be allowed to leave their homes outside curfew hours to make essential purchases. Markets, supermarkets, and convenience stores will be permitted to operate daily; markets may open 0600-1300, and supermarkets and convenience stores may open 0900-1600. Banks and fuel stations will also be open.

1700 May 29-0500 June 1: The government will enforce a total shutdown; they will suspend all transportation and public movements, except for emergency services, medical emergencies, the provision of basic services, and media personnel. Authorities have also restricted cargo transport, except for the transportation of food, water, medicine, and propane gas. Neighborhood stores will probably be permitted to operate 0800-1100 for the sale of essential supplies. Residents are only allowed to travel to these stores on foot.

Other existing measures will remain in place, including the closure of most public offices, private businesses, and large shopping malls; the suspension of all sporting, cultural, and religious events; and a ban on visits to retirement homes and prisons. Supermarkets, pharmacies, and fuel stations, as well as companies related to food, health products, energy, security, telecommunications, and banks, will only be able to operate outside the total shutdown periods. All public transport remains suspended. Residents must use a protective mask that covers their mouth and nose while in public; failure to do so may result in a fine.

The government is maintaining 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 on arrival. All entries and departures must be made by land through border crossings with Mexico and Belize. All interdepartmental travel is prohibited. Only approved cargo transportation is permitted domestically during the total shutdown periods. All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice.

Background and Analysis
Guatemala's restrictive measures are similar to actions taken by other governments 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. President Alejandro Giammattei previously announced May 6 that his administration would announce a plan to gradually reopen the economy by relaxing some restrictions on nonessential business. However, the recent tightening of the restrictions illustrates that such measures are dependent on local disease activity. Should the number of COVID-19 cases significantly increase, officials may 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. 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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