As part of ongoing efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), authorities in Venezuela announced a week of strict quarantine nationwide from Oct 12-18. The increased restrictions are a part of the nation's "7+7 Plus" plan to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan, which will remain in place through at least December, includes the rotational seven days of flexibility for businesses and individuals, followed by seven days of full or "radical" quarantine. Loosened restrictions, or days of "general flexibility," are likely from Oct. 19-25.
Under the strict quarantine, only essential businesses and services, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, law enforcement, public utilities, and agriculture, can continue operating.
Under the flexible measures, all states can enforce Flexible Quarantine measures except border municipalities that have long remained under Radical Quarantine. The following businesses and sectors are permitted to operate subject to restricted hours, Oct. 19-25:
- General Flexibility: Under these measures, 24 areas of the economy may operate, including construction, hardware stores, transport, banks and financial services, barbershops and hair salons, car repair businesses, healthcare centers (including dental offices and veterinarians), clothing services, chemical industries, and personalized services. Additionally, bookstores, malls, gyms, car washes, sporting events without spectators, drive-in cinemas, and optical stores may reopen.
- Radical Quarantine: Under these measures, officials continue to enforce strict quarantine measures in the border municipalities of the states of Zulia, Apure, Tachira, and Bolivar, on an ongoing basis, regardless of the country's 7+7 status. In these areas, only essential businesses can operate. 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.
Some nationwide measures remain in place regardless of which phase of the 7+7 Plus plan is in effect. All residents must wear protective facemasks while riding public transport, inside grocery stores and pharmacies, and at healthcare facilities, airports, and ports. Local and regional governments could impose additional restrictions, including limiting intercity or interstate vehicular travel; enhanced measures are especially likely in border areas.
Fuel Distribution Restrictions
Officials have also announced a new fuel distribution system, amid the country's continued fuel shortage crisis. Approximately 1,571 service stations will be available nationwide from 0600 daily. Individuals may only purchase fuel according to the last number of one's license plate number according to the following schedule:
- Monday Oct. 12: Vehicles with license plates ending in 5 and 6 are permitted.
- Tuesday Oct. 13: Vehicles with license plates ending in 7 and 8 are permitted.
- Wednesday Oct. 14: Vehicles with license plates ending in 9 and 0 are permitted.
- Thursday Oct. 15: Vehicles with license plates ending in 1 and 2 are permitted.
- Friday Oct. 16: Vehicles with license plates ending in 3 and 4 are permitted.
- Saturday Oct. 17: Vehicles with license plates ending in 5 and 6 are permitted.
- Sunday Oct. 18: Vehicles with license plates ending in 7 and 8 are permitted.
International and Domestic Travel
The ban on all domestic and international passenger flights is in effect until further notice. Cargo and humanitarian flights have been exempt from the ban. Officials have also permitted repatriation flights for Venezuelan citizens from abroad. 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.
All measures are subject to amendment at short notice. Authorities may reapply or further ease restrictions within the flexible periods depending on local COVID-19 activity. In addition to the border municipalities, other states or localized communities could have highly targeted measures reimposed if confirmed case numbers increase significantly.
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.