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COVID-19 Coronavirus Updates from Central America

UPDATED: September 17th 2021

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 from home nowadays.

Our 24-hour support line remains active, as always, on +502 5778-4801 & 5778-4922.

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

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

Belize Requires Negative Covid Test for All Travellers. Starting August 2021 all travellers, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, entering Belize from other countries will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test. All travellers entering Belize at the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) will be required to present a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken within 96 hours of travel or a negative result from any approved Antigen Rapid Test taken within 48 hours of travel. If no test is presented, a COVID-19 test will be administered at the airport for a fee of USD $50 per passenger. Children under the age of 5 years will not be required to present a negative test; but children 5 years and older will be required to present a negative test.

On September 17th – Prime Minister John Briceño has addressed the nation, saying we can get hold of the COVID-19 epidemic through collective action and responsibility. He announced the following measures for two weeks at the behest of the ‘exhausted’ health care workers: a curfew is currently in effect across the country daily from 7:00 pm to 04:00 am with the exception of tourist areas San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Placencia, and Hopkins where the curfew is from 09:00 pm to 04:00 am Restaurants will only function for take out services excepting the islands and Placencia and Hopkins.
All churches and casinos are now to be closed.
Contact sports are disallowed.
September 26 and October 3 will be days of no movement except for medical or supply emergency (food, fuel, medication). Briceño expressed confidence that we can fight back as we have before, but stated that on the current trajectory, cases and deaths would continue to increase and strangle the health system. That would in turn lead to a potentially devastating countrywide lockdown not seen since last April. As regards vaccines, there was no announcement of a mandate to deny entry into public spaces on October 1 but an urging to get vaccinated as there are guaranteed, safe, free and available vaccines for the entire population over 12.

These measures are being put in place in view of the increased risks posed by recent variants of the Covid-19 virus and in an effort to protect both international visitors and the local population.

Presently, Belize has instituted a temporary travel ban on persons who have travelled to or originated from or have transited the Republic of India and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. The temporary ban is due to the rising numbers of persons in these countries infected with the COVID-19 virus.

A series of new enhanced health and safety protocols have been put in place to protect visitors, Belizeans, and our communities. These include:

Mandatory use of face masks in public spaces
Enforcement of physical distancing measures in public spaces and capacity restrictions at restaurants (currently 50%), grocery stores, retail stores, etc.
Introduction of the “Tourism Gold Standard Program” which seeks to enhance the tourism industry’s health and safety standards by adapting new behaviours and procedures to ensure both employees and travellers are confident in the cleanliness and safety of Belize’s tourism product.

Tourism Gold Standard Program measures include:
Online check-in/out, contactless payment systems, and automated ordering/booking systems.
Hand sanitizing stations.
Enhanced cleaning and sanitization of public spaces and high touch surfaces.
Capacity restrictions for all tourism sites to ensure physical distancing can be maintained.
Smaller tour groups to provide a more intimate tour experience.

The institute of Archaeology (NICH) Belize announced: “WE ARE OPEN” The following sites are open for visitation effective immediately: Santa Rita, Cerro Maya, Lamanai, ATM, 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.

Costa Rica

Essential services are open. Hospitals are operating at normal capacity. Facial coverings are required in all public spaces and in all indoor settings except when eating, while alone, or in a private home. The use of facial coverings is also mandatory at bus stops and on all forms of public transportation. Face shields can continue to be worn, but only if a face covering is worn underneath. Face coverings can be either surgical or homemade if they cover the nose and mouth. The Ministry of Health has stated facial coverings should not include venting devices to provide maximum protection against COVID-19.

Motorists nationwide will be banned from using private transport between 22:00 – 05:00. Businesses will only be able to operate between 05:00 – 21:000 daily.  “Tourist transportation won’t be affected by this however is recommended to always have a prove of being traveling as a tourist and in transfers from airport to hotel, or moving from one hotel to another”.

PCR tests are available & test results reliably available within 72 hours. Results for COVID 19 tests conducted in San Jose and the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM) are generally available within 24-48 hours. Tests conducted outside of the GAM, including in remote and costal locations, may take longer to process. It is important to ask the testing facility for the expected date of results when scheduling an  appointment. Testing is paid for by the individual. Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health recommends travelers consider testing needs when planning travel and make appointments for testing immediately upon arrival in Costa Rica.

Airlines will review COVID-19 test results for passengers either during the airline security question process or when they speak to an agent at the counter. Passengers attempting to leave Costa Rica without valid proof of negative COVID-19 test results or documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel will not be allowed to board the plane.

More Info HERE

Guatemala

Entering Guatemala for those who have visited Brazil, U.K., South Africa:
Foreigners who have visited Brazil, the United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland), or South Africa within the past 14 days are not permitted to enter Guatemala. Guatemalan nationals, permanent residents of Guatemala, accredited diplomats and airline crewmembers are allowed to enter, but are required to quarantine for a minimum of 10 days, in addition to existing testing requirements.

The Government of Guatemala has announced a State of Prevention, as a result of a substantial increase in COVID-19 infections in Guatemala, a curfew was in place but It was dropped on August 24th . Although not an exhaustive list, some exceptions include official government business, medical emergencies, and food and pharmaceutical delivery services.

Public gatherings and movement:
Open-air public or private gatherings are limited, as well as public demonstrations, and other events and demonstrations that affect free movement or public services. The use of virtual platforms is encouraged where possible.
The authorities may request the dissolution, and may terminate by force if necessary, any meetings or public demonstrations that are unauthorized or take place without the necessary sanitary measures.
Authorities may request those who travel internally within Guatemala to declare the nature of their travel, and present documentation related to their itinerary.

Mask-wearing and social distancing:
Masks must be worn in public or governmental spaces and establishments, private spaces and establishments open to the public, and private entities offering restricted-access services, including any form of transportation or transit.  Exceptions are granted only for children under age 2, and those with a certified medical exception.  Non-compliance is subject to criminal penalty.
Individuals must maintain social distancing of at least 1.5 meters.

Alcohol consumption and sale:
The consumption of alcoholic beverages in commercial establishments, and in public spaces is prohibited between 9:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.
The sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited between 9:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.  Local municipalities may adapt their own local schedule to the one decided by the Guatemala Government.

Public and commercial establishments:
Public spaces (public parks, municipal parks, beaches, lakes, rivers, tourist resorts, water parks and theme parks) may operate at 25 percent capacity, and must close at 9:00 p.m.
Markets may operate at 25 percent of capacity between 05:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., with special hours for those over age 60.
Supermarkets, stores, shopping centers and malls may operate at 25 percent of capacity, and must close at 8:00 p.m., with special hours for those over age 60.
All food in markets and supermarkets must be prepared “to go.”
Bars and entertainment establishments may operate at 25 percent of capacity, and must close at 9:00 p.m.
Home delivery services may operate without restrictions.
Restrictions on funerals and mass burials remain in place, regardless of the cause of death.

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 than reported.

El Salvador

As of June 7, the number of new daily COVID-19 cases is down to 41 in El Salvador, compared to 142 per day in May. El Salvador has given out more than 2 million vaccine doses, enough for nearly 21.3% of its 6.5 million people. El Salvador continues to utilize funding from the World Bank in their fight against the pandemic. The pandemic, natural disasters and gang violence have all contributed to a huge increase in hunger in El Salvador, especially in rural areas. Essential services such as medical assistance, grocery stores, pharmacies, public transportation, and gas stations are operating and available to the public.

The Government of El Salvador reopened the International Airport with enhanced health protocols, which may include but not be limited to requiring the wearing of a mask at all times, maintaining social distancing, and temperature checks. The government of El Salvador is requiring all airlines to obtain from their international passengers a printed original negative Real Time-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test result issued within 72 hours of departure prior to allowing them to board. (Note: the 72 hours is counted from the date and time of the reception of the test result, NOT from the time a sample is collected) The printed lab report must state that the test is RT-PCR. However, no travelers who have visited the United Kingdom and South Africa in the last 30 days may enter, regardless of citizenship if they are not Salvadoran.

Honduras

The Government of Honduras has not approved a COVID-19 vaccine for use. All travelers entering or exiting Honduras must complete the immigration precheck form at https://prechequeo.inm.gob.hn. Travelers will receive a confirmation email, which they should print and carry with them. A negative COVID-19 test (PCR and/or serology) is required for entry the country.

Non-resident Honduran citizens and tourists coming from the United Kingdom or South Africa or having visited or transited through those areas in the last 21 days are restricted from entering Honduras via any means.
Honduran citizens and foreigners resident in Honduras coming from the United Kingdom or South Africa or having visited or transited through those areas in the last two weeks, must quarantine for 14 days upon entry to Honduras.

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.
The validity and emission of safe passage letters has been suspended; people should only circulate during the authorized hours between 5:00 am and 9:00 pm.

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 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 18,334 reported cases 389 deaths

Costa Rica 502,000 reported cases 5,919 death

El Salvador 99,701 reported cases 3,066 deaths

Guatemala 521,000 reported cases 12,907 deaths

Honduras 355,000 reported cases 9,400 deaths

Nicaragua 13,025 cases 1898 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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