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COVID-19 Coronavirus Updates from Central America

UPDATED: May 26th 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 –   A mandatory curfew from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. each day. Belize’s borders closed March 22nd. Belizeans, diplomats residing in Belize and foreigners with legal residency in Belize are allowed to enter. 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. Cave sites remain closed until further notice! 

From the time of report of the first imported case by a Belizean who returned from travel to the U.S., the epidemiological unit of the Ministry of Health fast-tracked a contact-tracing mode, they used to effectively isolate that first case and quarantined the entire island of Ambergris Caye where she and her mother, the second case, lived while carefully tracing her steps and her contacts since her arrival into Belize. This exercise was meticulously repeated with the following 17 cases, with a coordinated effort to locate, segregate and trace contacts related to each case.

With Belize closing at only 18 cases of the Covid-19, and with no new cases for 28 days as of May 11, the country has been able to begin a gradual return to normalcy, with most businesses and government offices already re-opened — with legislated and enforced physical distancing — and mandatory use of face masks.
Work is already being done by the team to create modules that will allow for mandatory pre- and ongoing screening of returning nationals and visitors once the airport and borders open, and screening of the general population by increased teams of contact tracers once schools and larger gatherings resume.

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 the 15th of June, 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

Schedule changes The cantonal and municipal markets may open from Monday to Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and at the same times they may serve supermarkets and convenience stores. Supermarkets that have home delivery may do so at any time, in vehicles fully identified for this purpose. The president invited to consume “from small producers, to combat the economic cessation”, and made it clear that it is necessary to have all the food to ensure that there is no shortage. On the other hand, Giammattei announced that the curfew will be from 5:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. the next day, and it will close completely from Friday, May 29th at 5:00pm to Monday, Jun 1st at 5:00 a.m.

Ongoing Restrictions
Inter-Departmental Travel: all travel between departments in Guatemala is prohibited. The Embassy is not able to assist in procuring waivers to this prohibition on an individual basis.
Mandatory Use of Masks in Public: all individuals must wear masks in public spaces, including in grocery stores and on the street, to prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 virus. Failure to comply with this requirement will result in fines of up to 150,000 Quetzales.
Closing of Borders: 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. Airport operations and routine commercial flights out of Guatemala have been suspended. The U.S. Embassy continues to work with Guatemalan authorities to allow passengers manifested on outgoing commercial flights to travel to the airport in Guatemala City. These passengers will receive letters requesting safe passage from their commercial carrier.
As noted above, the Embassy will not be able to facilitate transportation to the airport during the period of complete closure from May 14-18.
Suspension of Public Transportation: public transportation within Guatemala is suspended.
Suspension of Public and Private Sector Labor Activities: public and private sector labor is suspended, with the exceptions for certain essential government and health personnel, and for specific industries and utilities whose activities are essential to Guatemala’s security, food production, sanitation or infrastructure.
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: All beaches, lakes, rivers and other tourist sites in Guatemala remain closed. Public religious gatherings and celebrations of any size are prohibited. Visits to individuals in hospitals or prisons are prohibited. Academic activities at all levels are suspended until further notice.
Additional Department and Municipality-Level Restrictions
Beyond the national-level restrictions mentioned above, different municipalities within the country may adopt additional restrictive measures on travel and outdoor activities. Please monitor local news reports to receive the latest information.

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

Honduras To prevent the virus from spreading, President Juan Orlando Hernandez has suspended public transportation, closed government offices and businesses, and ordered people nationwide to stay indoors at all hours. Honduran authorities today extended the red alert until May 24th due to the health emergency and also extended the indefinite absolute curfew in three regions of that nation. The measure is in force in Cortés and in the municipalities of El Progreso (Yoro) and Las Vegas, in the department of Santa Bárbara.

The National Police announced banks, supermarkets, pharmacies, fruit and vegetable stands, and gas stations will be open Monday through Friday until 5:00 p.m. Shopping will be allowed from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. according to the last digit of an individual’s national identity card or passport number for non-Honduran citizens.

The elderly, women who are pregnant, and individuals with disabilities will be able to exclusively access grocery stores and pharmacies from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and banks from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on the day which corresponds to the last number on their identification.
We strongly encouraged to respect the curfew and minimize trips out of their home. It is mandatory to use face masks, sanitary gel, and social distancing in public.

Hundreds of demonstrators in Honduras blocked roadways to prevent funeral processions carrying COVID-19 victims to cemeteries in their towns. Protesters from nearly two dozen communities placed stones and tree branches across a highway east of the capital, Tegucigalpa, on Monday to prevent victims of COVID-19 from being buried in their towns. They say their concern is that family members of the deceased, who may themselves be infected, could bring the infection with them when they come to the local areas.
Protester Evelia Oliva lashed out at President Juan Orlando Hernández, saying “We do not want him to send people to be buried into this cemetery because they are infected people. And here we have a lot of families and we do not want to get infected just because of him.”

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 18 reported cases 2 deaths

Costa Rica 951 reported cases 10 death

El Salvador 2,042 reported cases 36 deaths

Guatemala 3,760 reported cases 59 deaths

Honduras 4,189 reported cases 182 deaths

Nicaragua 254 cases 17 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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