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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 all internal Covid restrictions, with social distancing rules, capacity limits, mask mandates, vaccine mandates, and driving restrictions all gone. On August 10, 2022, Costa Rica finally ended its State of Emergency, in place since March 2020.

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’s currently no curfew operating in Guatemala and most restrictions are over, included a short-lived experiment with mask mandates in July 2022. Masks are now only compulsory in the following areas:

  • All hospitals, health centers, swab and vaccination posts, medical clinics, and laboratories
  • Care and attention centers for the elderly
  • Detention and arrest centers
  • Public transport

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”.

As it stands, red areas have social distancing mandates, where people have to keep a distance of at least 1.5 meters from each other, both indoors and outdoors. This is also recommended – although not mandated – in closed spaces in orange alert areas. Hand hygiene is also mandated throughout the country.

Check out this map from the government which is revised every couple of weeks. This shows the current risk level of every part of Guatemala.

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 61% of its population fully-vaccinated (plus 7.5% 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 inside or outside, except for on public transport, in any heath facility (public or private), and for anyone who handles food as part of their job.

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

But if we’ve learned anything over the past two-and-a-half years, things can change on a dime. A good example being Guatemala’s reversal on masks in July. As it stands, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Nicaragua are the least-restricted countries in Central America, with Panama, Guatemala and Honduras still 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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