Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Panama to maintain quarantine orders until further notice due to COVID-19, but with a phased reopening of businesses from May 13.

This alert affects Panama

This alert began 12 May 2020 12:30 GMT and is scheduled to expire 26 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19-related restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Flight restrictions, transport and commercial disruptions, increased security

Summary
Authorities in Panama are maintaining a nationwide quarantine order and entry restrictions until further notice; however, a phased reopening of businesses will commence May 13. Restrictive measures were first introduced in mid-March as part of the government's effort to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Under Phase 1, in addition to previously approved essential businesses, companies and industries that are allowed to reopen from May 13 include e-commerce; mechanical workshops and spare parts; technical services, such as plumbers, electricians, air maintenance conditioners, elevator services, and pool maintenance; and artisanal fishing and industrial aquaculture. All businesses are required to comply with strict sanitation, hygiene, and social distancing protocols, including ensuring that staff and customers use face masks and maintain at least 2 meters (6.5 feet) between each other. In-person work meetings of up to 10 people may resume.

Existing quarantine measures will remain mostly unchanged under Phase 1. 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, Thursdays, and Saturdays. No one will be allowed outside their homes on Sundays. Persons over the age of 60 will be able to make their purchases 1100-1300 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 since March 22, and domestic flights since March 25. Cargo shipments 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 measures taken by authorities in Panama are similar to actions adopted by other governments globally in response to the spread of COVID-19, a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. Panama's decision to gradually reopen businesses takes place within a six-phase framework to allow economic recovery. The time frame for each phase is dependent on local disease activity, and has not been specified; however, the government has indicated that the phased reopening program could extend into 2021. 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.

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.


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