Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: International passenger airlines extend the suspension of operations to and from Nicaragua through at least early October due to COVID-19.

Alert Begins 08 Sep 2020 11:26 AM UTC
Alert Expires 07 Oct 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions, supply chain disruptions; possible protests

Summary
Most commercial airlines serving Nicaragua have again delayed the resumption of flight operations through at least early October. Airlines initially suspended their flights until early September due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic; however, the recent delays are likely linked to the Nicaraguan government's strict air traffic regulations. Augusto C. Sandino International Airport (MGA) in Managua remains open, and domestic flights and cargo transportation continue to operate. All travelers arriving in Nicaragua will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival. Nonresident foreign nationals showing symptoms of the disease will not be permitted to enter, while citizens and legal residents that show symptoms will be required to self-quarantine.

Passenger traffic remains suspended by Honduras at the land borders with Nicaragua. Although Nicaragua's borders are not closed to passenger or cargo transportation, heightened screening measures at the borders could cause some delays. Truck drivers and returning nationals that are denied entry into Nicaragua could stage protest blockades at the Penas Blancas border crossing on both sides of the border, as they have in the recent past. Any potential protests could cause major disruptions at Nicaragua's southern border.

The government has not officially announced any closures of its sea ports of entry or any significant restrictions on domestic movements and business operations. However, some sea vessels have been denied entry. Such disruptions are likely to persist. All measures are subject to amendment at short notice.

Background and Analysis
Unlike other governments globally, President Daniel Ortega delayed issuing any official domestic or international movement restrictions to stem the spread of COVID-19, which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) March 11. Ortega gave a televised speech April 13 and defended his government's lack of action. Given his insistence that restrictive measures will be harmful to the local population, major domestic restrictions are not likely in the immediate term; however, entry limits and requirements are likely to continue.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Plan for supply chain delays. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Avoid all protests.

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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