New Measures to Limit the Spread of Coronavirus

Mar 13, 2020

As of 12 March 2020, government officials across the North, Central and South Americas are moving forward with new measures in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Within these regions, the U.S. continues to have the largest number of confirmed cases (1,323), followed by Canada (117) and Brazil (52). On 11 March, U.S. President Donald Trump imposed new travel restrictions that will affect most individuals traveling from Europe to the U.S. The ban impacts those traveling to the U.S. from Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, or those who have traveled to one of the listed countries within 14 days prior to arrival in the U.S. The ban will go into effect at 0000 local time on 13 March (0500 UTC on 13 March). The suspension does not apply to commercial trade and cargo between Europe and the U.S. nor does it apply to U.S. citizens, their immediate family members or permanent residents. Additionally, the U.S. Department of State issued a “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” Global Health Advisory in light of the new coronavirus outbreak.

The governors of the states of California, Oregon and Washington have banned gatherings of more than 250 people statewide for several weeks. Public schools in the city of Seattle, Washington, will be closed for a minimum of 14 calendar days. The California cities of Oakland and San Francisco have also banned gatherings of 1,000 people or more. A number of universities throughout the U.S. have switched to remote learning to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, and multiple sporting and entertainment events have been postponed or canceled.

In Central America, President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador imposed a 30-day national quarantine as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19 in the country. During the quarantine, no foreign nationals will be permitted to enter the country regardless of country of origin. Furthermore, public and private schools in El Salvador are set to close for 21 days, and all gatherings of 500 people or more have been prohibited. In Guatemala, the health minister announced new travel bans to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Guatemala will not accept travelers from China, EU countries, Iran, North Korea or South Korea beginning on 12 March. While Guatemala has yet to confirm a case of the virus, the neighboring country of Honduras announced on 10 March that it has two confirmed cases.

In Costa Rica, there are 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 179 suspected cases. The government has suspended mass gatherings — including concerts and festivals — for at least two weeks, and major sporting events will be played without audiences. Public workers have been instructed to work from home where possible and private businesses have been requested to ask their employees to do the same. Additionally, the Costa Rican Tourism Board requested that businesses in the tourism industry allow flexibility for travelers to reschedule plans.

Meanwhile, there are seven confirmed cases in Panama, including at least one who contracted COVID-19 communally; additionally, the first virus-linked fatality in Central America occurred in Panama on 10 March. The government banned all major festivals, sporting events and other mass gatherings, and ordered public and private schools in affected regions to close down until 7 April.

On 12 March, the Argentine government banned the entry of travelers from China, the U.S., South Korea, the EU, and the 26 countries included in the Schengen visa area. The issuance of visas and residence permits has been suspended for the aforementioned countries, in addition to Japan and the U.K. All sporting events, concerts and visits to tourist attractions have been canceled until the end of March. A total of 19 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Argentina, with one virus-related death. On 11 March, President Alberto Fernandez declared a mandatory 14-day home quarantine for all travelers arriving from China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain or the U.S.

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