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Central America Covid Measures

A Guide to the Central America Covid Measures, Restrictions, and Curfews

We take a look at the Central America Covid measures, curfews, and restrictions on the ground in each country as things stand right now.

As we negotiate our way through the end of this pandemic, which countries are still under restrictions of one type or another? Are there curfews in place? Does segregation exist between the vaccinated and unvaccinated? Which Central American country is most “free”? Here, we take a look at each country and outline the restrictions (or not) in place right now.

Again, we’re not talking about entry requirements and whether you need to test to enter or not. You can find that info here. This is about what you’ll see/experience while in any given Central American country.

Belize

Curfews are no longer in place, dropped on March 1. Belize then dropped all mask mandates, social distancing rules, and capacity limits – everything is open again like it was pre-pandemic.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica has dropped most Covid restrictions at this time, with social distancing rules, capacity limits, and driving restrictions all gone.

All that remains in Costa Rica is mandatory mask wearing in public indoor spaces and mandatory vaccines for public sector workers and children over the age of five. But… and here’s the big but… these two remaining restrictions are (almost) history, according to the new administration of President Rodrigo Chaves, which took office on May 8.

According to the (as yet unpublished in La Gaceta) decrees, mask wearing and vaccination will become a matter of choice for all, except for front line health care workers. We expect to see these decrees published as soon as possible today or this week. Once published, Costa Rica is truly free again, with official advice being to wear a mask and get vaccinated, but no punishment for not doing either.

El Salvador

El Salvador removed all Covid restrictions in November, 2021. There are no internal restrictions in El Salvador, although the government recommends vaccination, mask wearing, and hand hygiene.

Guatemala

There is currently no curfew operating in Guatemala, although a ban on alcohol sales between 9:00 PM and 6:00 AM exists. Bars and restaurants can stay open after 9:00 PM, although the police generally start closing them at around 11:00 PM.

As far as masks go, Guatemala operates on a system where each department or municipality is color-coded depending on the amount of Covid cases in each area, which determines risk. Green is “normal”, yellow is “moderate”, orange is “high”, and red is “maximum”.

On April 28, the government announced that only “red” departments/municipalities need to implement mask mandates in both open and closed spaces. There are currently 15 “red” areas, which (should) get revised every two weeks. Departments/municipalities labeled “orange” or “yellow” (the vast majority of Guatemala – there are no “green” areas) have no mask restrictions except for when in closed spaces.

Confused? You should be! To clear things up a little, check out this map from the government which, as we say, should be revised every couple of weeks. If your area is red, you’re under more restrictions.

Honduras

Honduras separates the vaccinated and unvaccinated by mandating a curfew for the unvaccinated only. From 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM, you have to be able to prove you’re vaccinated to be out and about. Honduras has some 53% of its population fully-vaccinated (plus over 6% partially-vaccinated), so this affects a great deal of people.

Most businesses are now open, serving both the vaccinated and unvaccinated (until 10:00 PM, in the case of the unvaccinated). Capacity limits in businesses shouldn’t exceed 50%. Mask wearing is mandatory in public.

Nicaragua

Nicaragua has no internal Covid restrictions at all. The government continues to recommend the usual sanitary measures, but mandates nothing.

Panama

Panama operates its curfew on a province by province basis, although at this time, nowhere is under curfew, and haven’t been for a while.

Businesses are open, although the Panamanian government has left it up to them on whether they’ll admit unvaccinated customers. Business meetings are allowed in Panama, but only if all participants can show proof of vaccination, and many places operate social distancing rules of two meters apart.

Masks are no longer mandatory outside, but only in places where people can stay at least a meter away from each other. Inside, or in outdoor places crammed with people and social distancing isn’t possible, masks are still mandated. Public transport still requires masks, although no longer additional face screens.

It’s worth noting here that all these rules are current – meaning they’re in place right now.

But if we’ve learned anything over the past two years, things can change on a dime. As it stands, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Nicaragua are the least-restricted countries in Central America, with Panama, Guatemala and Honduras the most-restricted. Bear in mind, this are the official guidelines, and things might not play out this way on the ground, in the moment.

In the meantime, we hope this brief rundown helps. We’ll continue to update this article as situations change on the ground around the region.

James Dyde is the editor of centralamerica.com. He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.

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