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COVID-19 Coronavirus Updates from Central America

UPDATED: January 8th 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 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 & 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

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) is open. Land borders will remain closed.

The country’s primary concern is to assure both travellers and residents that Belize’s tourism product is safer than ever before. 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” for accommodation and tour operators, and other tourism entities which include gift shops, tourism transportation providers (domestic airlines, car rentals, and taxis), restaurants, and tourism sites.

The Gold Standard program seeks to enhance the tourism industry’s health and safety standards by adapting new behaviors and procedures to ensure both employees and travellers are confident in the cleanliness and safety of Belize’s tourism product. Some of these new measures include:

Online check-in/out, contactless payment systems, and automated ordering/booking systems
Hand sanitizing stations.
Enhanced cleaning and increased 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.

Gold Standard entities can be easily identified by looking for the Gold Standard Certificate or Safety seal.

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 

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.

Costa Rica

Since Nov. 1, Costa Rica has allowed all countries in the world to enter by air, as long as they meet the country’s visa and COVID-19 entry requirements.

The Government of the Republic has facilitated the entry of international tourists, and since Oct. 26, eliminated the requirement of RT-PCR tests for the detection of the coronavirus. Neither Costa Ricans nor foreigners will be issued sanitary confinement (or quarantine) orders when entering the country by air. These measures are subject to change and dependent on the evolution of the pandemic both in Costa Rica and around the world.

Tourists visiting Costa Rica are asked to abide by the sanitary protocols implemented for carrying out all tourist activities in the country.

More Info HERE

Guatemala

All passengers age 10 and over arriving in Guatemala by air and land are required to obtain a negative COVID-19 PCR or an Antigen test within 96 hours prior to arrival, and comply with health screening requirements. Starting December 23, all persons entering Guatemala who have visited the United Kingdom or South Africa within the past 14 days could be denied entry or be subject to quarantine due to a new variant of COVID-19 found in those countries. Guatemalan nationals, permanent residents, and diplomats with accreditation will be allowed entry, but will be required to quarantine for a minimum of 10 days. This guidance could change rapidly and additional countries may be added.

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 is open 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.

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

El Salvador has confirmed cases of COVID-19 within its borders.
On August 24, El Salvador reopened its economy. 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 on September 19 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.

Honduras

The Government of Honduras announced the following temporary measures in response to the new strain of COVID-19, as of December 23, 2020:

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.

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 11,202 reported cases 271 deaths

Costa Rica 178,000 reported cases 2,305 death

El Salvador 48,255 reported cases 1,398 deaths

Guatemala 142,263 reported cases 4,972 deaths

Honduras 126,537 reported cases 3,244 deaths

Nicaragua 6,097 cases 166 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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