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COVID-19 Coronavirus Updates from Central America

UPDATED: September 29th 2020

All our staff and their families are currently safe and well. Our head office in Guatemala and our secondary office in Costa Rica will be open and working adhering to all local legal requirements and international health requirements. Staff are working a short workday and are distanced.  We are on a full staff. We will still be responding to emails and helping with any urgent client needs. However, all non-essential enquiries will take a bit longer to reply to.

Our 24-hour support line remains active, as always, on +502 5778-4801.

For any urgent matters or other coronavirus updates please do not hesitate to get in touch with the company directors:

Noe Carrillo, General Manager | noe.carrillo@viaventure.com

Becky Harris, Director | becky.harris@viaventure.com

Beat Brunschwiler, Director | beat@viaventure.com

James Goller, Director | james.goller@viaventure.com

We sincerely hope all of you are weathering this worldwide crisis in the best possible way. Our hearts go out to all of those most in need at this time.

Keep safe

~Viaventure Team


On the ground

Belize

The prime minister of Belize has announced that the Philip Goldson International airport (BZE) will reopen on October 1st, 2020. Land borders will remain closed. Limited flights will be available from United Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta.

New airport guidelines and procedures are being implemented to maintain the health and safety of our visitors and citizens. Visitors are also highly encouraged to take a PCR test (not an antibody test) within 72 hours of arrival which will fast track your entry into the country.
If you don’t have a certified test prior to arrival, you will still be required to take a rapid test at your own expense when you arrive at the airport. The cost of the rapid test will be $50 USD. You may also bring your own rapid test kit to be administered by health officials at the airport in Belize.

During your stay, you must adhere to all health and safety protocols in Belize including social distancing, and wearing of masks in public. The protocols are subject to change as the situation evolves.

Further updates can be found on the Government of Belize Press office Page HERE  and the Belize Tourism Board Page HERE  and the ministry of health HERE 

All country will experience curfew between 10:00 pm to 4:59 am on weekdays and 12:00 am to 4:59 am on weekends. No date set yet for reopening of land borders.

The institute of Archaeology (NICH) Belize anounced: “We ARE OPEN” The following sites are open for visitation effective immediately: Santa Rita, Cerro Maya, Lamanai, Altun Ha, Cahal Pech, Caracol, El Pilar, Xunantunich, Serpon, Nim Li Punit, Lubaantun.  We look forward to welcoming visitors to the sites. Please practice social distancing and proper hygiene. Cave sites remain closed until further notice! 

Costa Rica  The country managed to control the Covid-19 cases, and now there are more recovered people than infected. The current restrictions include still the complete nighttime no traffic allowed from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. every day. During the week license plates are restricted by numbers, and there is a total ban for specific plates on weekends too. Beaches, town parks and other gathering places are completely closed, schools are not going to open until further notice. And borders closure has been extended until further notice, and are expected to remain closed for a lot longer since Nicaragua specially is not taking the situation seriously.

Daily cases are minimum, from 1 to 10 at day, and so the government has let gyms, and other business to reopen under strict rules, and at less than 50% capacity.  Tourism institute trying to help the industry with a reactivation of national tourism campaign soon.

20 rooms hotels’ can now open at a 50% capacity
12 national parks and reserves will reopen at a 50% capacity
Sports with no contact are now allowed, football is back but behind doors
Beaches are open from 5 am to 8 am

More Info HERE

Guatemala

President Alejandro Giammattei announced this September 27th 2020 on a national network that the presidential provisions are “maintained”.  The Guatemalan government will continue its tiered system of health alerts, which provides updated information on levels of health risk by locality throughout Guatemala, in an effort to prepare for the country’s gradual re-opening. A curfew remains in effect between 9:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. daily!

Effective immediately, Guatemalan authorities will impose COVID 19-related restrictions on movement and activities on a locality-by-locality basis based on the health alert level in each location. This system replaces Guatemala’s previous system of nation-wide restrictions on movement and activities. The overall threat ranking is as follows:

Type of Alert | Threat Level:
Green  |  Low Risk
Yellow  | Moderate
Orange | High
Red  | Maximum

The activities that will be permitted at each threat level will depend on the alert type they present. Specific details including social distancing parameters by activity can be found on the Ministry of Health’s website.

La Aurora International Airport has re-opened to both arriving and departing commercial passenger flights with health protocols in place for the screening of arriving passengers. Internal travel is largely unrestricted. Markets, supermarkets, stores and restaurants may operate with social distancing measures in place, and religious services of no more than an hour are permitted. Sports and entertainment facilities remain closed.

The Guatemalan government is currently barring entry to most non-Guatemalans (with specific exceptions for accredited diplomatic personnel, health and security personnel, and exceptional cases as designated by the Guatemalan government) – by its land, sea, and air borders.

Passengers entering Guatemala must either present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result issued no earlier than 72 hours prior to entry, or self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, under the supervision of the Ministry of Public Health.

COVID-19 Testing: Testing is available at private clinics and hospitals in Guatemala City and in many departments outside of the capital. Antigen testing costs between Q300 and Q500. PCR testing is available at private hospitals for Q2,700 – Q3,500. Public hospitals and laboratories offer antigen testing for symptomatic patients without cost, but may require long waits and delayed results.
The government has announced that La Aurora International Airport will re-open September 18 with screening procedures in place for passengers. Those exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms can expect to be referred to a treatment facility or be required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

United Airlines is currently operating special repatriation flights (outbound only) from Guatemala City to George Bush Intercontinental/Houston Airport (IAH), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), and Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD). On the other hand Aeronautica Civil and Asociación Guatemalteca de Líneas Aéreas (Agla) said that in Guatemala there are 11 commercial passenger airlines of which 10 are international and one local, and of these 4 are expected to start operating in September and 4 more in October. America Airlines, Avianca, Copa Airlines and United Airlines have scheduled flights for September 2020. For October there are Aeroméxico, Delta Airlines, TAG, while for December there would be Volaris, while Interjet temporarily does not have Guatemala on its routes, according to information from Agla.

Restrictions will remind until further instructions from Mr. President Alejandro Giammattei.

Most of the previous Restrictions will keep the same:
Mandatory Use of Masks in Public, Closing of Borders, Prohibitions on Alcohol: the sale and purchase of alcohol is permitted only during limited hours. Consumption of alcohol in public areas is prohibited.

Other Restricted Activities: Academic activities at all levels are suspended until further notice. Additional Department and Municipality-Level Restrictions

Nicaragua Coronavirus Update – Only has a few cases so far, but unfortunately, the Government does not yet seem to be taking the crisis seriously and we have not yet heard of any official isolation orders although we have told all our staff to do so.
Nicaraguans going into Costa Rica illegally have tested positive for the virus which makes all of us think they situation is far worse then reported.

El Salvador

In a national conference in which presidential arguments prevailed to justify the need to maintain the emergency and the domicile quarantine rigidly, President Nayib Bukele reiterated that he does not intend to reopen the national economy in the short term as the Salvadoran businessmen ask him to do. economic disaster looming in the country.

“It is not time to open, no matter how many businessmen shout. I know that it is hard for many to hear these words, I know that many are worried about their jobs or their businesses, some small businesses. Not all businessmen are big or millionaires, “said Bukele, given the prevailing need to maintain home insulation to avoid repeating what other countries have experienced in El Salvador, he said.

This point is that the one that stops the political opposition from accessing the Government to declare a longer emergency decree that was in force since March 14 and ended on Saturday, May 16. ARENA and the FMLN request that the Executive present a gradual plan for opening up the economy with the implementation of health protocols and specific plans on how to carry out the quarantine. However, Bukele reiterated that although some businessmen “scream”, the economy cannot be opened because the pandemic is about to occupy the highest contagion curve in the country as a result of COVID-19

However, International airport at San Salvador will be open starting on September 4th for “on transit” passengers only and on September 19th passenger commercial flight will be allow.  This decision was not agreed together with the Legislative Assembly, the Constitutional Chamber declared it unconstitutional and now the Executive must agree again with the Assembly before August 23rd, an uncertain date again if they are taken into account previous political tensions.

Honduras

Honduras will take another step towards the new normal with the reopening of three of its four international airports, which will begin operating as of today for domestic flights with a series of restrictions and thus prevent the spread of covid-19. Honduran Airports authorities confirmed that they were informed that the municipal authorities of Roatan, Bay Islands, met with the Honduran Civil Aeronautical Agency (Aha) and the National Risk Management System (Singer) where they decided to reopen.

Wilfredo Lobo, head of the Ahas announced that the Tonconlin airport of Tegucigalpa and Goloson de La Ceiba, Atlantida, will be open from 7 am to 5 pm and the Ramon Villeda Morales of San Pedro Sula will attend from 7:00 am am to 7:00 pm. As the process is gradual, it is being done with schedules and will begin with the national airlines, and each of the institutions that are part of the commercial flight operations must comply with the biochemistry measures already approved.  He specified that commercial operation will be carried out locally and will be taken as an exercise to evaluate the operation of airports and jump to international flights on August 17th.

Measurements
Due to the fact that the spread of the covid must be avoided, the use of masks, temperature measurement, distancing and the arrival of flights will be mandatory.  Once the traveler arrives, they must go through the international health office, where a doctor will make a thorough evaluation to determine the patient’s symptoms through a complete interview. After that, he may be referred or sent to isolation. Inside the plane, travelers must also use bio-security equipment.

Honduras extends hours of movement of people from 6 am to 8 pm – Sinager determined to maintain the curfew until further notice.

Re-bookings and Cancellations

Viaventure has suspended cancellation penalties for passengers whose trips must be rescheduled due to the outbreak. We are working closely with all service providers to allow passengers to re-book their trip for a future date without penalty or loss. In cases where suppliers are unwilling or unable to reschedule a booking, or if the booking is rescheduled at a date which may incur a price difference, a supplemental cost may be charged to the client. If a refund is required in lieu of rescheduling, we will review these requests on a case by case as we must work with all providers involved to determine fees.

We want to reassure clients that Viaventure has a strong financial position and we are not using any deposits paid to use as cash to survive. This cash will be held ready to be used once we are able to rebook clients and customers on trips into the future.

We are working on 2021 rate books and already have some rates. Please refer to our 2021 Rates update Page HERE and let us know if you want the link to our ongoing rate books.

We are also collecting “Book Now, Travel Later” special offers from our suppliers and you can see these HERE.

 

Number of Cases and Deaths – Coronavirus Update for Central America

The number of cases and deaths from Coronavirus in Central America are currently low. We are referring to Worldwide update by the BBC can be seen HERE

Belize 1,758 reported cases 22 deaths

Costa Rica 73,714 reported cases 861 death

El Salvador 28,630 reported cases 826 deaths

Guatemala 90,263 reported cases 3,234 deaths

Honduras 75,537 reported cases 2,301 deaths

Nicaragua 5,073 cases 149 deaths

Please do not hesitate to reach out to us at any time with any questions or concerns.

We will continue to send updates as new developments occur.

 

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