Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Haiti extends internal movement restrictions, 2000-0500 curfew, and closure of ports through May 19, due to COVID-19 activity.

This alert affects Haiti

This alert began 21 Apr 2020 13:15 GMT and is scheduled to expire 19 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least May 19
  • Impact: Significant business and transport disruptions, increased security; possible protests and clashes

Summary
Authorities in Haiti extended the nationwide health emergency and associated movement restrictions through at least May 19. The measures first came into effect March 19 as part of the nation's efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The 2000-0500 curfew, which has been in effect since March 20, will remain unchanged. Citizens are to stay limited to essential movements only, outside of curfew hours. The government has urged individuals to use face masks when in public.

Other internal restrictive measures are also in place. The government suspended all inter-municipal public transport along National Route 2 (RN 2), between Port-au-Prince and Les Cayes (Sud Department). Local officials in Sud and Grand'Anse departments have also banned all public transport in and out of these regions. Similar suspensions and ground transport restrictions are likely over the coming days and weeks. There is a ban on all events and meetings of more than 10 people. All schools, universities, some factories, and places of worship are to close until further notice.

The closure of all land, air, and sea ports of entry and exit, as well as the suspension of all commercial passenger flights, has also been extended through May 19. Cargo transport will not be restricted; trucks will be able to cross from the Dominican Republic, but authorities say they will increase security measures and health screenings. The measures in place will significantly impact business and transport in the country. All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice.

Civil Unrest
Haiti carries an elevated threat of civil unrest and protests despite the government's restrictions on nonessential movements. Protests could erupt to the government's restrictive measures, as well as the lack of access to food and other essential goods amid the pandemic. Even under movement restriction orders, protesters have blocked roads in the capital, and along the RN 2. Protesters have been known to throw rocks and vandalize private businesses. Similar actions are possible over the coming days and weeks. The lack of access to resources could lead to the looting of stores. There is a high threat of clashes between protesters and police at all demonstrations in Haiti.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by Haiti's government correspond with similar actions taken by other governments globally in recent weeks, in response to COVID-19. 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. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. 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.

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