Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: Panama maintains nationwide restrictions; stricter measures in Panama and Panama Oeste provinces, with curfew revisions from July 17.
- Alert Begins: 16 Jul 2020 02:08 PM UTC
- Alert Expires: 22 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 16, authorities in Panama are maintaining Phase 2 of reopening of the economy across most of the country, with tighter restrictions still in place in Panama (which includes the capital, Panama City) and Panama Oeste provinces. Restrictive measures were tightened in the affected provinces in response to a reported increase in new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases after restrictions were lifted June 1. While there have been no drastic changes to the previously announced measures, some revisions to the restrictions across these areas are due to take effect over the coming days.
Starting July 20, officials will stagger 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. 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.
Under Phase 2, restrictions outside of Panama and Panama Oeste Provinces remain unchanged. A 1900-0500 curfew will be enforced daily. Children will be allowed outside 1600-1900, 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.
Panama and Panama Oeste Provinces:
Effective July 17, the weekend curfew will be expanded and enforced from 1900 Fridays through 0500 Mondays. 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 restricted time guidelines for leaving one's home to attend to approved business, dependent on one's gender are:
- Last digit is 7: Allowed out 0700-0800 (including grace period 0630-0830)
- Last digit is 8: Allowed out 0800-0900 (including grace period 0730-0930)
- Last digit is 9: Allowed out 0900-1000 (including grace period 0830-1030)
- Last digit is 0: Allowed out 1000-1100 (including grace period 0930-1130)
- Last digit is 1: Allowed out 1300-1400 (including grace period 1230-1430)
- Last digit is 2: Allowed out 1400-1500 (including grace period 1330-1530)
- Last digit is 3: Allowed out 1500-1600 (including grace period 1430-1630)
- Last digit is 4: Allowed out 1600-1700 (including grace period 1530-1730)
- Last digit is 5: Allowed out 1700-1800 (including grace period 1630-1830)
- Last digit is 6: Allowed out 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 slated flight operations to resume July 22. 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.
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.