Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Nicaragua likely to maintain restrictions on international passenger flights and cross-border cargo transport through at least early June.

This alert affects Nicaragua

This alert began 22 May 2020 09:27 GMT and is scheduled to expire 09 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least early June
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions, supply chain disruptions

Summary
Authorities in Nicaragua are likely to maintain existing international transport restrictions linked to curbing the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) until further notice. Nicaraguan civil aviation authorities earlier called for the suspension of all commercial flights through at least early June; however, some airlines have indicated that they will continue to suspend their flight operations to Nicaragua until early July. Although repatriation flights for passengers are severely disrupted, Augusto C. Sandino International Airport (MGA) in Managua will remain open for domestic flights and cargo transportation.

The border with Costa Rica has also been closed for cargo transport since May 18. Hundreds of cargo trucks are stranded in Penas Blancas on the Nicaraguan side of the border. Passenger traffic between the countries has already been suspended for weeks due to COVID-19-related measures. Authorities in Honduras have also suspended all passenger traffic at all its border crossings; however, there are no restrictions on cargo transportation. Noting this, shortages of food and other essential goods are possible in southern Nicaragua if the border closure for cargo goods becomes protracted.

Officials have not announced any closures of its sea ports of entry or any significant restrictions on domestic movements and business operations or. 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. Ortega gave a televised speech April 13, more than a month after his previous public appearance, and defended his government's lack of action. The decision to close the border with Costa Rica to cargo transportation was only made in retaliation, after Costa Rican officials had limited access for cargo trucks through its borders with Panama and Nicaragua, due to COVID-19-related concerns. Given his insistence that restrictive measures will be harmful to the local population, major domestic restrictions are not likely in the immediate term.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Plan for supply-chain 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.

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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