CENTRAL AMERICA & CARIBBEAN
On May 18 Costa Rica issued a decree limiting goods transport and extending the airport closure measure until June 15. Honduras has extended its social distancing measures until May 24. The Bahamas has announced the island is open for business again, and will allow domestic air travel. Finally, Barbados has made liquor sales official with a permit. See below for more details.
On May 18, the Executive branch published two decrees governing goods transport on land, allowing only those in transit from border to border to enter Costa Rica and providing these with a police escort, as part of the administration’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. The Costa Rican Chamber of Food Industry and the Chamber of Foreign Trade however opposed the measure, considering that it could have adverse consequences for regional trade. In other news, the Executive presented a protocol to allow private companies to reopen.
Also on May 19, the Costa Rican Executive published a regulation prohibiting foreigners from entering the country until June 15, closing both ports and airports. The measure prolongs the restriction in effect since March 18 concerning the operations of immigration points for the entry of persons by air, sea or land. The measure could be extended beyond June 15 if the Executive deems it necessary.
Over the weekend, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced that commercial activity on Cat Island, Long Island, Abaco and Andros would be resumed as of today, as the Government “is about to begin a gradual re-opening of inter-island travel.” This is accompanied by a policy and protocol developed by the Ministry of Health to approve and monitor individuals traveling to those islands. Those showing no symptoms will probably be issued a COVID-19 Authorization Travel Card. To access the full speech, click here.
In addition, in a new measure, grocery stores and pharmacies may open as of Saturday, May 16, from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. Minnis also announced that the Government is working to reopen the tourism sector permitting travel in and out of the Bahamas. “Our resorts, our airports and our seaports are finalizing the health and safety protocols necessary for us to provide for a re-opening (…) as of now, the Government is looking at a possible opening date for commercial travel on or before July 1,” he said.
The Executive has published the Emergency Administration (COVID-19) Order – Directive 5, which explains how the curfew will work between May 18 and 31. The document allows alcohol to be sold only in licensed establishments, although consumption in those locations is prohibited. Bars continue closed while restaurants may operate delivery services all day. The regulation is already in force.
The Executive branch has extended the national curfew through May 24, allowing people to go out on specific days for essential activities, such as going to the bank or to the supermarket, dependent on each person’s ID number. The measure could be extended even further if deemed necessary by the Executive in its efforts to combat COVID-19. President Juan Orlando Hernández has also set up a working group with the private sector, to work on plans to reopen the economy and due to begin work in the upcoming days.
The governments of Honduras and Costa Rica have agreed to restrict border trade with Nicaragua, amid criticism of the latter’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is due to numerous infections reported among cargo transporters travelling from Nicaragua. This government opposed its neighbors’ decisions and through the Ministry of Finance ordered the closure of the Peñas Blancas border crossing shared with Costa Rica in retaliation.