Authorities have revised and extended Panama's national and provincial curfew measures and other movement restrictions; the amended restrictions will take effect Jan. 14, and are part of the government's ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response plan.
Effective Jan. 14, the nationwide curfew will be scaled back from 1900-0500 to 2100-0400. As before, essential services, critical transportation, and international travelers are exempt from the curfew. The new curfew will be applied daily, except in areas where the weekend lockdowns will continue to be enforced, which are the provinces of Panama, Panama Oeste, Cocle, Veraguas, and Los Santos, and Herrera. Only the construction sector and strategic public services (such as the health and technical services) may continue during these periods. Stricter measures are being enforced in these provinces due to higher COVID-19 transmission rates:
Panama and Panama OesteIn addition to the weekday curfew, a total weekend quarantine will be enforced from 2100 Fridays until 0400 Mondays. Movement restrictions based on the last number of one's ID card or passport will be eliminated; however, gender-based restrictions will continue to be enforced. Shopping is exclusively for women Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and for men Tuesdays and Thursdays.
To avoid crowds on public transportation, officials have also announced a staggered schedule for work start times from Jan. 14: Construction workers will start at 0700, private companies at 0800, and public servants from 0900. Work-related gatherings are to be limited to no more than 25 people maintaining a physical distance of 2 meters (6.5 feet) between each other, and places of worship are limited to no more than 25 people or 25-percent building capacity. Only authorized businesses are permitted to operate, including retail trade (online and delivery) supply and distribution wholesale trade, as well as the construction, administrative, professional, and technical industries, and domestic, cleaning and, laundry services.
HerreraIn addition to the weekday curfew, a total weekend quarantine will be enforced from 2100 Fridays until 0400 Mondays. Between Mondays and Fridays, only supermarkets, stores, grocery stores and pharmacies may open for the exclusive sale of food and medicine. Gender-based movement restrictions will also be enforced; shopping is exclusively for women Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and for men Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Cocle, Veraguas, and Los SantosIn addition to the weekday curfew, a total weekend quarantine will be enforced from 2100 Fridays until 0400 Mondays. Business operations must end by 1930.
Nationwide MeasureAuthorities have announced plans to continue the country's COVID-19 recovery plan from Feb. 1. Although nonessential businesses and recreational activities have resumed in some parts of the country, albeit with limited capacity, authorities intend to implement the following reopening plan, depending on local disease activity:
Feb. 1: Retail, beauty parlors, barbershops, and daycare centers
Feb. 15: Carwashes, tailor shops, shoe repair shops, nonessential industries, cultural industries, and restaurants
March 1: Gyms, spas, lotteries, fishing, and race tracks
March 15: Beaches, rivers, public pools, and cinemas
Previously established pandemic-related protocols for businesses and recreational activities are likely to remain in place nationwide until further notice. All businesses are required to comply with strict sanitation, hygiene, and social-distancing protocols, including ensuring that staff and customers use protective facemasks and maintain at least 2 meters (6.5 feet) between each other.
International Travel RegulationsSince Dec. 21, 2020, authorities have prohibited the entry of travelers who have stayed in or transited through the UK and South Africa within 20 days of arrival. The ban is in response to a variant strain of COVID-19 in these countries and it is unclear how long the ban will remain in place. The measures apply to foreign nationals and nonresidents entering via the land, air, and sea borders by commercial or private transport. Panamanian nationals and residents may return but will be required to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or antigen test upon arrival and complete a quarantine period, regardless of the test result.
The measures are in addition to other COVID-19-related travel protocols and internal measures, which are likely to remain in place through early 2021. Except for travel from the UK and South Africa, the country's ports of entry are opened to international travelers and all arriving passengers are still subject to enhanced health screenings at all airports. All persons entering Panama must complete an online sworn affidavit before travel and must present a negative PCR or antigen test taken within 48 hours before arrival, or be subject to testing at the airport. If the test is negative, no quarantine will be required; however, if the test is positive, the traveler must quarantine at a government-approved location. A second test will be taken after seven days of quarantine; if it is positive, the traveler must remain in quarantine until tested negative.
Authorities could reimpose, extend, further tighten, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks. Highly targeted localized measures could be enforced in provinces or local communities with higher disease activity.
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements and business appointments. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance.
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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