Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Venezuela tightens COVID-19 restrictions in Caracas and Miranda State as part of regional plan in place through at least July 19.

  • Alert Begins: 16 Jul 2020 09:52 AM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 20 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Flight cancellations, increased security, severe transport and business disruptions

Summary
Authorities in Venezuela are enforcing tightened restrictive measures in Caracas and Miranda State as of July 16, as part of the three-level system of measures to combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The regional plan took effect July 13 and will remain in place through at least July 19. Caracas and Miranda were previously categorized under Level 2 restrictions, but were moved to Level 1 with the strictest measures in place, due to increased disease activity. Across all levels, essential businesses and services, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, law enforcement, public utilities, and agriculture, will continue operating. All residents must wear protective facemasks while riding public transport, inside grocery stores and pharmacies, and at healthcare facilities, airports, and ports. The measures will be applied as follows:

Level 1 - Radical Quarantine
Residents may only leave their homes to conduct essential or critical tasks, such as obtaining basic goods, attending to a medical issue, caring for a person in need, or traveling to or from employment at an essential business or government agency. Only essential and critical services are permitted to operate. In addition to Caracas and Miranda State, the measure applies to the entire state of Zulia, as well as border municipalities, and the coastal city of Cumana (Sucre State).

Level 2 - Partial Flexibility
Residents may only leave their homes to conduct essential and approved tasks. Certain approved sectors may operate, including the construction, hardware, plumbing, textile, chemical materials, and transportation industries as well as bank agencies, hairdressers, mechanical workshops and auto parts stores, and medical and dental offices. The measure applies to the states of Anzoategui, Apure (except border municipalities), Aragua, Bolivar (except Santa Elena de Uairen), Carabobo, Falcon, Merida (except El Vigia), Sucre (except Cumana), Tachira (except border municipalities), Trujillo, and Yaracuy.

Level 3 - Full Flexibility
Authorities will maintain the existing flexible quarantine measures following the "7+7" formula, where seven days of work is permitted, followed by seven days of quarantine. When the full quarantine is in effect, residents may only leave their homes to conduct essential and critical tasks. Under this level, sectors under Level 2 will be permitted, along with car washes, opticians, electrical repairs, stationery and bookstores, ice cream parlors and coffee shops (for takeaways), laundromats and dry cleaners, authorized shopping centers, appliance manufacturing, parcel services, textile, and associated businesses, registries, and notaries, sports events without audiences and gyms, veterinary services, and drive-ins. The measure applies to the states of Amacuro, Amazonas, Barinas, Cojedes, Delta, Guarico, La Guaira, Lara, Monagas, Nueva Esparta, and Portuguesa.

Other restrictions will be maintained despite some businesses reopening. Schools will remain closed, as will most nonessential businesses. The military is enforcing the restrictions. Local and regional governments could impose additional restrictions, including limiting intercity or interstate vehicular travel; enhanced measures are especially likely in border areas. The ban on all domestic and international passenger flights is in effect through at least Aug. 12. Cargo and humanitarian flights have been exempt from the ban. Repatriation flights for Venezuelan citizens from abroad have also been permitted. Additionally, all land border crossings remain closed, though there are no restrictions on cargo transportation. The restrictions may be extended or amended at any time.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by authorities in Venezuela are similar to actions taken by other governments globally in response to the spread of COVID-19. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. Venezuela's decision to enforce the flexible 7+7 quarantine was likely taken in early June to allow some economic recovery while still maintaining some restrictions; however, stricter measures are likely to be maintained in higher-risk areas. 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
Follow all official instructions. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. 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.


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