Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Suriname maintains indefinite 2300-0500 curfew, border closures. Curfew to be lifted May 24-25 due to elections. Tight security likely.

This alert affects Suriname

This alert began 22 May 2020 09:10 GMT and is scheduled to expire 26 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinitely
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions, increased security; possible demonstrations

Summary
President Desire Delano Bouterse announced that authorities will temporarily lift the country's current nationwide curfew May 24-25 to allow for the facilitation of Suriname's general election May 25. The 2300-0500 curfew will be reinstated from May 26, until further notice, to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Persons operating in essential sectors, like health and security, are excluded from the order. The government began relaxing business restrictions May 15; however, all schools, recreation, and entertainment centers (except casinos, which reopened May 20) and bus services remain suspended. The number of people permitted at social gatherings is limited to 50. Authorities have urged the public to practice regular hygiene protocols and physical distancing measures, including the keeping of 1.5 meters (5 feet) between individuals, especially during the election period.

The curfew complements other existing measures, including a ban on passenger movement at all ports of entry. The movement of essential goods by land remains ongoing; however, enhanced health screenings may result in delivery delays. Officials have made provisions for cargo flights between Suriname and the Netherlands. Beginning May 22, the government will lift the ban on all domestic passenger and freight air traffic. All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice.

General Election - May 25

Around 380,000 voters are registered to elect the 51-member National Assembly, which will then vote for the nation's president. The ruling National Democratic Party (Nationale Democratische Partij, NDP) will face 17 contending political parties in the election, with President Bouterse standing for reelection for a third consecutive term. Authorities will almost certainly deploy additional security to facilitate the election, especially around more than 600 polling stations. Despite restrictions on public gatherings and campaign rallies, politically-motivated rallies and demonstrations are possible, especially near polling stations and government buildings. Minor skirmishes could break out during rallies, particularly between supporters of opposing camps or if police use force to disperse crowds that fail to uphold social distancing protocols.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by the Suriname government correspond with similar actions taken by other governments globally in response to the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. Suriname's decision to gradually ease the curfew measures and open businesses has been taken to initiate an economic recovery phase in the country. Nonetheless, stricter measures are likely at least for the duration of the May 25 election. Should the number of COVID-19 cases significantly increase, relaxed restrictions may be reapplied. Likewise, a continued low number of cases may result in a further relaxation of restrictions.

Advice
Avoid all demonstrations and political rallies during the election period. Seek updated information from local, trusted sources on election rallies and associated disruptions and allow additional time to reach destinations May 25. 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. Plan for possible ground shipping and travel delays; seek alternative routes and shipping methods for time-sensitive cargo.

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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