CENTRAL AMERICA & CARIBBEAN
On April 27, various governments stepped up or extended their efforts to tackle COVID-19. Once again, Guatemala and Honduras extended social distancing measures and restrictions on the purchase/sale of goods for consumption, this time accompanied by Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago. On the other hand, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica are shifting their attention towards economic recovery. The Bahamas has created an inter-institutional committee of public and private sector representatives, tasked with analyzing measures to promote the digital economy in the country, especially in relation to delivery services. Below is more information on these and other actions in the region:
The Secretary of Security has extended the national curfew until May 3, allowing people to leave their homes once a week, on the day permitted according to their ID card number. The use of masks and gloves is mandatory. On weekends going out is prohibited, save for certain exceptions determined by the Executive Branch.
Supermarkets, gas stations, pharmacies, banks and hardware stores are the only businesses authorized to operate on weekdays with opening hours from 7 am to 5 pm. The elderly and pregnant women may shop in the exclusive timeframe of 7 am to 9 am while the rest of the population can shop from 9 am to 5 pm. This means that people can only purchase consumer goods, including alcohol, during these hours and all establishments must remain closed at weekends
On April 27, the Government of Guatemala issued a series of Presidential Provisions extending the ‘state of public calamity’ until May 4, including social distancing measures and the evening curfew, which also maintains public transport restrictions and border closures.
The document states that “standards for hygiene and occupational public health” are “mandatory for the entire population, companies, private entities and organizations of any nature”. The airports will remain closed for international and local flights, with the exception of military, humanitarian and cargo transfers. These measures may be extended again on Monday, May 4.
Trinidad and Tobago
The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley has extended the nationwide mandatory quarantine until May 15. Borders will remain closed, as will educational institutions and public entertainment. There have been no changes made to the activities authorized to operate, so employees in the alcohol industry are still allowed to work.
“We have done well so far (…) the question now is how much more we can do to preserve and hopefully improve our chances of avoiding a calamity,” the president said, adding that “we cannot relax now.” Rowley added that on May 10 he will report on how the COVID-19 contingency plan is to be continued in the country.
The Puerto Rico Medical Task Force has sent Gov. Wanda Vazquez a plan to resume activities in four phases, in order to get the island back on its feet after the COVID-19 crisis. The envisages that the hotel and catering industries be among the last to reopen. The document does not include dates for each stage, which will have to be defined. The governor is expected to make a decision on the plan soon.
The Medical Task Force is in charge of issuing recommendations and advising the government on the management and mitigation of the coronavirus. Its document splits the resumption of activities into four phases. Hotel and catering services would open in stage 3, while wholesale shops would open in stage 2. The plan recommends that the entertainment and recreation sector (cinemas, theatres and festivals) should remain closed until a vaccine, treatment or sufficient immunity has been found.
The Barbados Parliament issued a resolution to extend the State of Emergency until June 30, while maintaining the curfew unchanged until May 3. According to Attorney General Dale Marshall, “no decision has yet been made to extend the curfew”. He explained that this measure is independent of the State of Emergency and will be assessed over the next few days by the Executive and the Legislature before a concrete decision is taken.
The Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Hubert Minnis has set up an Economic Recovery Commission to make recommendations for reactivating the country’s economy, especially in the tourism sector. The Prime Minister called for the commission to be “bold and creative in its recommendations”. One of the central points it is scheduled to discuss will be how to boost the digital economy, including the promotion of delivery services.
The commission, which is billed to start operating soon, will be comprised of representatives from the public and business sectors, such as: Khrystle Rutherford-Ferguson, who is the Vice Chairman of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and the Employers Federation, Greg Laroda, president of the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce; Suzanne Pattusch, Executive Vice President of the Bahamas Hotel & Tourism Association and Matthew Aubry, Executive Director of the Organization for Responsible Governance among others.
The Executive has announced new measures to relax trading restrictions in the country, while cinemas and theatres will be able to resume activities. A two-meter social distancing rule must be observed in all locations. The rules will apply from May 1 to 15, Monday through Friday, from 5 am to 7 pm and represent the first step in opening up commercial activities. The next decisions are expected on May 11.