On Oct. 22, authorities in Peru have issued a decree modifying the travel and movement restrictions imposed as part of the country's efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Effective Oct. 22, the country's land borders are open are officially open to passenger traffic. However, the decree stipulates that the regional governments and Ministry of Health coordinate to draft regulations that will allow land ports of entry to gradually accept passenger arrivals, and some border crossings are thus likely to remain closed to passenger transit until such regulations enter force. Cargo shipments remain permitted to enter the country.
The decree also imposes a weekly 0001 Sunday-0400 Monday curfew throughout the country. This is in addition to the existing 2300-0400 nightly curfew, which remains in effect. During these curfew hours, individuals outside their homes may be subject to questioning and arrest by police or military personnel. Only essential workers providing health, financial, sanitation, or telecommunications services may leave their homes during curfew hours.
Additional restrictions remain in effect. While international passenger flights may arrive in Peru, they are limited to those that the Ministry of Transport certifies normally take no more than four hours. This regulation essentially limits arrivals in Peru to only those flights departing from Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay, or Uruguay.
Stores may continue to operate at 60 percent capacity, and restaurants and related establishments (except bars) may operate at 50 percent capacity. The most recent decree also permits religious sites such as churches to reopen beginning Nov. 2, though they may operate at only one-third their normal maximum capacity. The decree also allows beaches to reopen, though they are subject to closures on certain days of the week depending on their locations. All businesses must adhere to government directives, such as enforcing social distancing guidelines, implementing enhanced sanitary procedures, and limiting operating capacity.
Residents over the age of 65 or individuals who have preexisting medical conditions or potentially dangerous comorbidities are required to stay in their homes nationwide. Exceptions only apply when such persons are experiencing medical emergencies or require food, medicine, or financial services and have no one who can acquire such goods and services on their behalf. Minors must also remain in their residences; they may, however, leave for no more than 30 minutes but may venture no further than 500 meters from their homes. Whenever they are in public, minors must be accompanied by an adult who lives with them.
Officials require all persons to wear a face shield that covers their eyes, nose, and mouth, and a mask that covers the nose and mouth whenever they are using public transportation or flying in an aircraft. All persons must also wash their hands with soap or rub disinfectant on their hands for at least 20 seconds before boarding any aircraft or public transport vehicle. Temperature checks are also mandatory, and no person with a temperature above 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) may board any public transport vehicle or enter any airport or bus station. Travelers are also required to sign an affidavit attesting to their health. Persons younger than 14 or older than 65 must sign an additional statement swearing that they are abiding by the national quarantine measures.
Significant transport and business disruptions are ongoing. Authorities have deployed additional security personnel to assist in enforcing the measures that are in place.
Authorities could tighten, extend, ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.
Background and Analysis
Peru's preventive measures are similar to actions other governments are taking globally in response to the spread of COVID-19. 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 World Health Organization (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 non-emergency 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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