Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: Panama enforces varied restrictions in different provinces due to COVID-19 activity, with local revisions to take effect July 25 and 27.
- Alert Begins: 23 Jul 2020 03:11 PM UTC
- Alert Expires: 30 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Transport and commercial disruptions, increased security
As of July 23, authorities in Panama have announced various restrictive measures across provinces nationwide, in response to local coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity and case statistics. Some existing measures remain unchanged nationwide. A 1900-0500 curfew will be enforced daily, except in areas where tighter weekend curfews are in place; a 24-hour full weekend curfew will be imposed in Bocas del Toro, Colon, and Chiriqui provinces effective July 25. Nationwide, children will be allowed outside 1600-1900 if accompanied by a parent, caregiver, or guardian. Religious sites, parks, social areas, and sporting areas will be allowed to operate at 25-percent capacity. Social, cultural, and festive group activities, as well as beach visits and contact sports, remain restricted.
Starting July 27, business restrictions will be eased in Los Santos, Herrera, and Cocle provinces. Car sales businesses, private construction, and professional and administrative services may reopen subject to strict operating requirements. All other business operations remain unchanged across all provinces since the reopening of numerous companies and sectors under Phase 1 May 13 and Phase 2 June 1. All businesses will still be required to comply with strict sanitation, hygiene, and social distancing protocols, including ensuring that staff and customers use facemasks and maintain at least 2 meters (6.5 feet) between each other. Since July 20, officials have staggered the start times for operating hours; private-sector employees are required to enter their workplace by no later than 0800, while public-sector employees are required to enter by 0900.
Panama and Panama Oeste Provinces:
Officials are maintaining the weekend curfew from 1900 Fridays through 0500 Mondays, along with the weekday 1900-0500 curfew until further notice. Outside curfew hours, officials require residents to stay at home, except to procure authorized goods and services for one hour (with a half-hour grace period either side), according to the last digit of one's Panamanian residence card or passport, as well as the gender noted on the identification. Women will be allowed to circulate on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; men will be allowed to circulate on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Persons over the age of 60 will be able to make their purchases 0700-1000 regardless of the last number on their residence card or passport, but still according to their stipulated gender. People outside their homes for other reasons will be subject to arrest. These time guidelines for leaving one's home to attend to approved business, dependent on one's gender, are:
- Last digit is 7: 0700-0800 (including grace period 0630-0830)
- Last digit is 8: 0800-0900 (including grace period 0730-0930)
- Last digit is 9: 0900-1000 (including grace period 0830-1030)
- Last digit is 0: 1000-1100 (including grace period 0930-1130)
- Last digit is 1: 1300-1400 (including grace period 1230-1430)
- Last digit is 2: 1400-1500 (including grace period 1330-1530)
- Last digit is 3: 1500-1600 (including grace period 1430-1630)
- Last digit is 4: 1600-1700 (including grace period 1530-1730)
- Last digit is 5: 1700-1800 (including grace period 1630-1830)
- Last digit is 6: 1800-1900 (including grace period 1730-1930)
Authorities also earlier banned foreign nationals and nonresidents from entering the country and suspended all commercial passenger flights to and from Panama March 22, and domestic flights March 25. Officials have extended the flight suspensions through at least Aug. 21. Cargo shipments and humanitarian and medical flights are exempt from the restrictions. Panamanian nationals and residents returning to the country are subject to a mandatory self-quarantine for 14 days. All measures are subject to amendment at short notice.
Background and Analysis
The restrictions implemented by Panamanian authorities are similar to actions taken by other governments globally in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic March 11. Panama, like several other governments, has likely begun easing restrictions on businesses regionally due to the need to allow some economic recovery. Should the number of COVID-19 cases significantly increase, relaxed restrictions may be reapplied. Likewise, a continued low number of cases may result in further relaxation of restrictions. Authorities could impose highly targeted localized measures in some areas, as they have done in Panama and Panama Oeste provinces.
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements and business appointments. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. 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.