Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: Authorities in Sao Tome and Principe to further ease COVID-19 related restrictions from June 16; travel and business disruptions remain.
- Alert Begins: 16 Jun 2020 12:50 PM UTC
- Alert Expires: 31 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Heightened security, transport and business disruptions; possible health screenings, shipping delays, protests
Authorities in Sao Tome and Principe have downgraded the country's state of emergency to a state of calamity June 16-July 31 as part of continuing efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The further easing of restrictive measures will be implemented in three stages until July 31.
Stage 1 will run June 16-30 and will see:
- Airspace reopened for repatriation flights for incoming Sao Tome and Principe nationals and outgoing foreign nationals.
- The lifting of the nationwide 1830-0500 curfew order.
- General trade, service providers, construction companies, banks, takeaway restaurants, pharmacies, fuel stations, and bakeries may operate 0700-1600.
- Religious gatherings will be permitted at one-third of normal capacity.
Stage 2 will run from July 1-15:
- The country's airspace will be reopened for commercial flights from the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) countries.
- Businesses and service providers will be allowed to operate during normal hours,
- Some schools and universities will resume teaching.
- Accommodation providers and entertainment venues, including hotels, guest houses, casinos, museums, theaters, and libraries, will be allowed to reopen.
Stage 3 will run from July 16-31 and will see the normalization of local inter-island and international commercial air and maritime passenger travel.
A gradual reopening of certain businesses, facilities, and institutions has been implemented since June 1. Restrictions currently in place under Stage 1 easing include:
- Airports remain closed to commercial transportation.
- Ports are still operational and will receive freight, but workers and passengers on transporting vehicles are barred from disembarking.
- Cruise and private vessels will be denied entry.
- The use of protective masks is mandatory in public places.
- Social distancing measures must be observed in all public transport services. Taxis may operate at 50 percent capacity.
All measures are subject to amendment at short notice in response to government reviews; further details on the easing of restrictions are likely in the coming weeks as authorities introduce other phases of the plan.
Background and Analysis
COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.
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.