As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, Latin American and Caribbean nations are enacting a number of drastic measures to try to combat the coronavirus. Here is a snapshot on some of the steps being taken in the hemisphere.
Anguilla: Effective 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, a ban on direct flights originating from Europe, including the United Kingdom, for the next 14 days. All passengers arriving from Europe, regardless of route, will be quarantined for 14 days. All non-essential travel for public servants has been suspended for 30 days and residents of Anguilla are encouraged to avoid all unnecessary travel overseas. Schools are closed for a week as of Monday, March 16. Cruise ships with passengers who have been to Europe in the last two weeks will not be allowed to dock or disembark passengers. There is also a 45-day ban on public and private large gatherings that are likely to involve visitors from overseas. Other local gatherings in the British overseas territory such as church, sports and political events will be allowed to continue for the time being.
Antigua and Barbuda: After the eastern Caribbean nation recorded its first confirmed COVID-19 case on March 13, the government announced a 30-day ban on all parties, festivals and similar social gatherings. Foreign nationals who have traveled to and from China, Italy, Iran, Japan, Korea and Singapore the past 28 days are not being allowed in. Citizens of Antigua and Barbuda as well as resident diplomats will be allowed entry.
Argentina: With 56 cases and two deaths related to the coronavirus, Argentina on Sunday, March 15, announced it is closing its borders to all non-resident foreigners. While cruise ships will be allowed to refuel and take on provisions, passengers cannot disembark.
Aruba: Two days after the government of Aruba confirmed its first two positive COVID-19 cases on March 13, officials announced a complete “lockdown” for all international incoming passengers starting at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, March 17 until March 31. Residents will still be able to enter, but the government is advising against nonessential travel. Cargo will continue to be able to be flown in and relief flights will be possible as long as the airline is willing to operate them.
Bahamas: Restricted entry for nonresidents who have traveled to China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, and Europe in the last 20 days. Residents will be subjected to quarantine for a maximum of 14 days if they have visited the countries. After it registered its first confirmed case, the government closed schools until April 14. All national sporting events and permits for use of public spaces suspended.
Barbados: No restrictions on travel. But arriving passengers from China, Italy, Iran and South Korea will be quarantined for 14 days.
Belize: No confirmed cases as of Sunday, March 15. Travel ban on visitors who had, within the last 30 days visited, China, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, South Korea and Europe.
Bolivia: On Sunday, Interim President Jeanine Añez said that starting Wednesday, March 18, travelers from Europe’s Schengen bloc, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Iran would be banned from entering the country. Previously, travelers from Spain, China, South Korea and Italy were barred.
Bonaire: As of Friday, March 13, the government of Bonaire said there were no confirmed cases. It announced a suspension of flights from Europe until March 31. This includes flights originating in the European Netherlands. A 30-day ban on cruise ships also took effect on March 14.
Brazil: The U.S. embassy in Brasilia warns travelers that Brazil, the first country in the region to register the coronavirus, has implemented enhanced screening and quarantine measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Travelers should be prepared for restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice, the embassy said. There are 84 confirmed cases.
British Virgin Islands:-On March 14th the British Virgin Islands banned cruise ships for 30 days and announced the immediate closure of the Tortola cruise port. The BVI also limited international arrivals to just three ports. Visitors who have traveled to, from or through COVID-19 affected countries within a period of 14 days or less are prohibited. All mass gatherings and festivals have been postponed. This includes the 2020 BVI Spring Regatta, scheduled for March 30-April 5, and the Virgin Gorda Easter Festival. At present there are no confirmed cases in the islands.
Cayman Islands: Temporary ban on all public gatherings of 50 people or more, including church services, sporting events, cinemas and restaurants. Excluded from the ban are hospitals, pharmacists and supermarkets. Effective March 13, it expanded a 60-day travel ban to include visitors from the 26-country Schengen bloc in Europe, China, Iran, Japan and South Korea. Effective Monday, March 16, all cruise ships also banned for 60 days, and schools closed and set to reopen April 27. The British overseas territory recorded its first COVID-19 related death on March 14, a 68-year-old Italian cruise ship passenger with a heart condition. Effective March 22nd the airport will be closed for three weeks. Anyone arriving before March 22nd is to self-isolate for 14 days.
Chile: The country will shut its borders to all non-resident foreigners starting, Wednesday, March 18. It’s also prohibiting all gathering of 50 people or more. Chile also has suspended classes at the elementary, secondary and university level in the capital of Santiago and 20 other cities to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.
Colombia: A travel ban on all foreigners with the exception of foreign residents and diplomats took effect Monday, March 16. Bans were previously in effect for European and Asian travelers and the land border with Venezuela has been closed.
Costa Rica: Costa Rica confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on March 8. The tally has since risen to 41. On Monday, March 16, President Carlos Alvarado Quesada declared a state of emergency. The country will shut down its borders to foreigners and non-residents starting 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18. The restriction applies to the country’s ports of entry via land, air or sea.
Starting immediately, citizens and residents who arrive in Costa Rica will be subjected to a mandatory 14-day quarantine, President Alvarado said. The travel restrictions will continue through at least Sunday, April 12 at 11:59 p.m.
Costa Rica has 41 confirmed cases of COVID-19, Health Minister Daniel Salas said Monday. Thirty-five are Costa Ricans, while six are foreigners. Five people are hospitalized— three in intensive care.
Cuba: Suspected cases are isolated in hospitals. Travelers are screened at airports and put in isolation for 14 days if showing symptoms. Large shows and music concerts are banned. No flight or travel restrictions. Schools remain open.
Curacao: As of Sunday, March 15, Hato Airport in Curacao was closed to all traffic from Europe until further notice. The decision came after Curacao recorded its first positive case. A travel advisory from the U.S. Consulate General in Curacao said individuals who have visited Hong Kong, Macau, China, Singapore, Iran, South Korea and Italy within the last 14 days will not be allowed in Curacao. Individuals who have traveled to other areas with sustained transmission of COVID-19 will be evaluated and screened prior to entry.
Dominica: No confirmed cases as of Monday, March 16. All travel to and from China is banned. Arriving passengers must complete a health declaration form and be screened for elevated body temperature. Anyone showing flu-like symptoms or who has been to an affected area in the past 14 days may be placed in 14-day home quarantine.
Dominican Republic: The Dominican Republic, which had reported 11 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, announced its first death Monday, March 16, a 47-year-old woman who recently returned from Spain. At a news conference, the health ministry announced 10 additional COVID-19 infections, bringing the total to 21. The new cases include the first person-to-person transmission recorded in the country. The country previously canceled flights from Milan, Italy, and announced travelers from locations with a higher incidence of COVID-19 cases may be subject to additional screening on self-isolation.
El Salvador: As of Monday, March 16, El Salvador had registered no COVID-19 cases. However, President Nayib Bukele, who declared a state of national emergency on March 14, has enforced severe measures, from shutting down the airport to commercial flights to sending home all non-essential public employees for 30 days. El Salvador is currently under a 21-day quarantine, which bans all foreign visitors who are not diplomats or permanent residents, and forces all Salvadoreans returning home to quarantine. Anyone attempting to enter the country through “blind spots” risks jail time, Bukele has said. Schools are also closed for 21 days, and bars, nightclubs and gyms are also closed for two weeks. Bukele has asked all public transport units to be sanitized three times a day, and all workers to wear masks. He has also announced the construction of what he called the “largest hospital in Latin America” to address the pandemic. He has also ordered private companies to send employees who are older than 60, who are pregnant or who have underlying conditions, home on paid time off for 30 days. Additionally, private companies who don’t deal with food, medicine or supplies, and decide to send all of their workers home on paid time off will be eligible for government help.
Ecuador: The country has barred all non-resident foreigners from entering the country and has shut down gyms, theaters and cinemas.
Grenada: No confirmed cases as of Monday, March 16. Arriving travelers to Grenada who have been to Hong Kong, China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Iran, Italy, or Germany in the last 14 days are subject to quarantine or other restrictions.
Guadeloupe: According to the U.S. embassy in Barbados’ website for the Eastern Caribbean, Guadeloupe currently has six confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Monday, March 16. There are currently no restrictions in place. However, travelers returning from risk areas are asked to monitor their temperature, wear a surgical mask, reduce non-essential activities and avoid places with at-risk individuals for 14 days. For more information, travelers should visit the public health website.
Guatemala: President Alejandro Giammattei confirmed in a televised address Monday, March 16, that the country had six COVID-19 cases. To contain the disease, he suspended all flights from March 16-30, except for cargo. Guatemalan residents and citizens and diplomatic staff can still enter the country via land. The Ministry of Public Health reported on Sunday, March 14, Guatemala’s first death: an 85-year-old who had arrived from Spain on March 6. That same Sunday, officials announced all schools and universities would close for three weeks, all sports events would take place without fans and all gatherings of more than 100 people were prohibited.
Guyana: The English-speaking nation on the tip of South America recorded the first COVID-19 death among Caribbean Community nations on March 12. The woman had recently traveled from New York and had underlying health conditions. The country currently has four confirmed cases and has asked individuals currently in China to defer travel to Guyana and has said anyone who comes could be subjected to increased scrutiny, mandatory quarantine or denial of entry.
Haiti: With no confirmed COVID-19 cases, Haiti announced the closure of its porous border with the neighboring Dominican Republic and suspension of all international flights, except those coming from the United States, effective Tuesday, March 17. Government officials are banned from traveling. Haitian officials announced that arriving U.S. travelers would need to show proof they had tested negative for the coronavirus and there was an agreement with U.S. authorities to screen Haiti-bound passengers out of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and New York. But the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince appeared to have refuted that, saying on its website it does not know what proof the Haitian government is referring to, and that the Haitian government will continue to screen incoming passengers at its two international airports.
Honduras: The entire country has been virtually shut down. With six positive COVID-19 cases as of Monday, March 16, schools are closed until March 26. President Juan Orlando Hernández has also banned all public events, regardless of the number of attendees for seven days. Additionally, all non-essential businesses were also ordered closed, except for supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations, hotels, banks, hospitals, and restaurants with drive-through or delivery services. Visits to nursing homes, hospitals and the like are also prohibited. All borders are closed except for cargo, Honduran residents and citizens, and diplomatic staff. Nearly all private and public workers went home, and public transportation halted. Hernández declared a “red alert” on all 18 departments until March 28. Anyone who doesn’t comply with the directives is subject to a jail sentence ranging from 6 months to 2 years.
Jamaica: The health minister confirmed 12 COVID-19 cases as of Monday, March 16, and introduced new measures including limits on the number of people allowed in taxis and restaurants. All non-essential employees also must work from home. The new measures come on the heels of school closures for 14 days, and a ban on all public gatherings. There’s also a ban on travel for individuals who have visited China, Iran, South Korea, Italy and Singapore along with the suspension of flights from Spain, France and Germany. Part of the island was put under quarantine and the government recruited retired medical professionals. Prime Minister Andrew Holness declared the island a disaster area because of the threat of coronavirus infection and said he was seeking 100 Cuban nurses to help.
Martinique: There are 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Monday, March 16. As with other French overseas territories in the region, there are currently no travel restrictions in place. Travelers returning from risk zones are asked to monitor their temperature, wear a surgical mask, reduce non-essential activities, and avoid places with at-risk individuals for 14 days. For more information, travelers should visit the public health website www.santepubliquefrance.fr.
Mexico: The government of Mexico has not imposed travel restrictions at this point, but has been under pressure to consider them. Cancun Airport has introduced thermal imaging to screen passengers to determine whether or not they have abnormally high temperatures. There are 82 reported cases in Mexico with one patient in Cancun, an Italian visitor.
Montserrat: The Government of Montserrat officially canceled all St. Patrick’s Festival activities. It also announced the cancellation of a ferry between Antigua and Montserrat and advised visitors to rearrange their flights and depart earlier than they may have initially planned. As of Monday, March 16, there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19. There is one suspected case currently under investigation. Officials are appealing to anyone who traveled on the March 10, BA flight 2157 to make themselves known to authorities.
Nicaragua: The Central American nation, along with El Salvador and Belize, is one of the few countries in the region to have not reported a COVID-19 case. The country has not imposed any travel restrictions and has been flouting medical advice and norms. On March 14, the Daniel Ortega government held a “Love in the Time of COVID-19” parade, which included a rally in downtown Managua.
Panama: After registering the first COVID-19 death in Central America, Panama announced the temporary closure of all schools and universities located in the regions of North and Central Panama, and San Miguelito. Panama closed its borders to non-residents as of 11.59 pm March 16th.
Peru: Peru will close its borders to international travelers and non-resident foreigners starting Tuesday, March 17.
Puerto Rico: The U.S. territory declared a state of emergency, while prohibiting all large gatherings and ordering the National Guard to begin health screenings at points of entry. It also introduced a curfew.
St. Barthelemy: The French overseas territory reported one confirmed case of COVID-19. There are currently no restrictions in place.
St. Kitts and Nevis: With no confirmed cases as of March 16, the government of St. Kitts and Nevis began requiring all incoming air passengers to list the countries they had visited in the last six weeks. It also asked anyone who had traveled to the following countries in the last 14 days to not visit: China, Italy, Iran, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain. Persons who arrived in St. Kitts & Nevis from these destinations are subjected to a mandatory 14-day quarantine period following screening at the port of entry. The same applied to residents and citizens. It also prohibited passengers exhibiting flu-like symptoms from disembarking as well as those who had visited the restricted COVID-19 countries.
St. Lucia: Restricted travel for arriving individuals who have traveled to, from or through China within the last 14 days, as well as Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Italy and Singapore. Effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, the restrictions were expanded to Spain, France, Germany, Iran and the United Kingdom. The Government of Saint Lucia is working with the authorities from Martinique in defining the terms of the commute between the two countries. Persons who travel from the U.S. within the last 14 days who develop respiratory signs and symptoms will be isolated and tested for COVID-19. Effective Monday, March 16, cruise vessels are also banned.
St. Martin: There are currently two confirmed cases, which originated in St. Barts. As with the other French overseas territories, there are no restrictions in place and returning travelers are asked to monitor their temperature, wear a surgical mask, reduce non-essential activities, and avoid places with at-risk individuals for 14 days.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines: Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has announced that he will seek help from Cuba to combat the coronavirus, which has infected at least one person in the country. He also said his administration is seeking to employ at least 20 nurses locally in addition to three medical doctors from Havana, who specialize in handling infectious diseases, including COVID-19, according to local press reports.
Sint Maarten: No confirmed cases in Dutch St. Maarten. Effective Tuesday, March 17, all international flights and cruises originating from the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom to Sint Maarten are canceled for a period of two weeks. The travel restriction also applies to other seafaring vessels, according to a travel advisory of U.S. Consulate General in Curacao. U.S. citizens who wish to depart Sint Maarten on planes to the United States after March 17 will still be allowed to do so.
Suriname: Vice President Michael Ashwin Adhin announced the closure of the South American nation’s airport and land borders as of 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 14, after the country recorded its first positive case. The infected person had traveled from the Netherlands last week.
Turks and Caicos: No confirmed cases as of Monday, March 16. Hospitals began restricting visiting hours. Persons who have visited China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Macau, South Korea, Japan or Italy in the last 14-20 days and who do not have permanent residency or marriage exemption in Turks and Caicos Islands will not be granted landing privileges at any of the country’s ports of entry, sea or air.
Trinidad and Tobago: As of Monday, March 16, there were four confirmed cases. Among the measures announced: the closure of the National Archives’ public search room until further notice, restrictions on hospital visiting hours and visitors and closure of the country’s land and sea borders to non-nationals for 14 days, effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday March 18th. The twin-island also has Imposed a fine of $889 or six months in prison for those who breach quarantine.
U.S. Virgin Islands: The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health has announced its first confirmed case of COVID-19. The U.S. territory’s first case is a resident with some recent international travel history to one of the five locations with widespread transmission of the disease. It has instituted travel restrictions similar to those announced by President Donald Trump, which includes China and Iran, and certain European countries. No cruise ship calls for 30 days although the airport remains open.
Venezuela: The day before Venezuela registered its first two COVID-19 cases, leader Nicolás Maduro declared his country was coronavirus free. Now the nation has reported 33 cases and declared a “social quarantine” of six states, including Caracas, requiring businesses to stay shut and people to stay home. It has also canceled all flights to Europe and Colombia for 30 days.
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.