Brand New Panama Lockdown Announced Over Christmas and New Years

Dec 16, 2020

Panama authorities announce a new lockdown and other restrictions over the upcoming holiday period. These new restrictions are not as severe as they were earlier in the year. Panama also announced it would be hiring doctors from abroad to help with the COVID crisis, and that it had approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

At a press conference yesterday evening, health minister Luis Sucre announced that from December 18 to January 4, Panama will go under curfew from 7:00 PM to 5:00 AM. During that time, a ley seca (dry law) will go into effect, prohibiting all alcohol sales. The idea here is to prevent Christmas parties and gatherings from taking place. People will be able to buy alcohol before 7:00 PM for consumption at home.

During this period, public sector employees will work every other day only, one day on one day off. On days off, they will work offsite, distributing food parcels among other tasks, said Sucre.

Other measures will be the closure of beaches, rivers, swimming pools, and spas.

The government will also restrict travel from parts of Panama, creating “sanitary fences”. Travelers will not be able to leave Panama City and Panama Oeste from December 18 to January 4.

Beyond the general December 18-January 4 curfew, Panama will go into full lockdown from 5:00 AM December 23 to 5:00 AM December 28. Then again from 7:00 AM January 1 to 5:00 AM January 4. During this time, nobody will be allowed to leave their homes.

During this period, food delivery can operate until 10:00 PM and the international airport will remain open. Travelers needing to get to and from the airport during lockdown hours will be able to do so.

Find a link here to a PDF (in Spanish) outlining the official government announcement.

In the same press conference, Sucre also announced the hiring of doctors from abroad.

Panama will be bringing in doctors from the United States, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, and Cuba. This will give local physicians a break and guarantee uninterrupted care for citizens.

Other COVID-19 related news from Panama came from Ivette Berrío, the vice-minister of health.

She announced Panama has now approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and the country was ready to use it.

Panama has already bought 4 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. It expects to receive the first 450,000 doses between “the second half of January and the first half of February”.

Main points of Panama holiday restrictions:

  1. 7:00 PM-5:00 AM curfew from December 18-January 4
  2. Dry law between 7:00 PM-5:00 AM from December 18-January 4
  3. Beaches, rivers, pools, and spas closed from December 18-January 4
  4. “Sanitary fences” in place restricting the movement out of Panama City and Panama Oeste from December 18-January 4.
  5. Total curfew between December 23 (5:00 AM) and December 28 (5:00 AM)
  6. Total curfew between January 1 (7:00 AM) and January 4 (5:00 AM)

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