Authorities in Panama have announced that effective Dec. 4, the daily curfew in Panama Oeste Province will be increased by two hours and will be enforced 2100-0500 until further notice due to increased coronavirus disease (COVID-19) case numbers. The existing 2300-0500 daily curfew will continue to be applied to all other parts of the country, including the Sona and San Francisco districts (Veraguas Province), which were previously under stricter curfew orders. Essential services, critical transportation, and international travelers are exempt from the curfews.
In addition to the stricter curfew, officials have prohibited the sale of alcohol 1900-0500 daily. Officials have also stated that although the Pan-American Highway, which connects Panama Oeste Province to the capital Panama City, will remain open, additional checkpoints will be established to monitor movements in the region.
Domestic Recovery Measures
Officials are continuing the nation's COVID-19 reopening recovery plan while maintaining some restrictions, such as the nationwide curfew. Commercial, tourism, and recreational activities, as well as nonessential transportation, have mostly resumed since the government launched its reopening plan in May. As of Dec. 1, officials have not announced changes to any previously established capacity limits. Cinemas, theaters, museums, galleries, and indoor tourist sites may operate at 50 percent. Religious sites, parks, social areas, sporting areas, and swimming pools may operate at a 25-percent capacity. Beach visits are allowed 0600-1600 with family groups no larger than seven people. The entry of food and alcoholic beverages is prohibited; consumption is only permitted in restaurants and inns in the area. Social and festive group activities and contact sports remain restricted.
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. In July, officials staggered the start times for operating hours; private-sector employees are required to enter their workplace by no later than 0800, while public-sector employees are required to enter by 0900.
As of Dec. 1, all 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 polymerase chain reaction (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, the traveler will be required to quarantine at a government-approved location if the test is positive. A second test will be taken after seven days of quarantine; if it is positive, the traveler will be required to remain in quarantine until tested negative.
Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, 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.