Message for U.S. Citizens Regarding Restrictions and Updates by Government of Guatemala in Response to COVID-19

July 20, 2020

Location: Guatemala  

Event: The Guatemalan government has declared a state of siege in the municipalities of El Estor, Morales, and Livingston in the department of Izabal, and the municipalities of Panzos and Santa Catarina La Tinta in Alta Verapaz due to the presence of organized criminal groups engaged in narcotrafficking, human trafficking, transportation of contraband materials, and other illicit activities. U.S. citizens in Guatemala are advised to avoid these areas for their own safety. The state of siege is anticipated to last for 30 days and may be renewed or extended at any time. 

Update on COVID-19 Restrictions 

New health alert system: The United States Embassy in Guatemala reminds U.S. citizens that the Guatemalan government’s tiered system of health alerts will go live on July 27, providing updated information on levels of health risk in the country based on locality and time. The threat ranking will be as follows:

TYPE OF ALERT   THREAT LEVEL
Green                     Normal
Yellow                    Moderate
Orange                   High
Red                         Maximum

The Embassy advises U.S. citizens in Guatemala to familiarize themselves with changes to the threat level in their areas. For the week before the official launch, these alerts are meant to be informational only. Following the official launch, Guatemalan authorities may impose specific restrictions to travel or activities in a given area based on its threat level. Current health alerts and additional information can be found on the Ministry of Health’s website, via the following link: https://mspas.gob.gt

Restrictions on Vehicular Mobility: In the departments of Guatemala, Escuintla, Sacatepequez, Suchitepequez, Izabal, El Progreso, Zacapa, Santa Rosa and Quetzaltenango, all personal vehicles with license plates that end in an odd number (for example P001AAA) are permitted to circulate Tuesday, July 21; Thursday, July 23, and Saturday, July 25. All personal vehicles with license plates that end in an even number (for example P002AAA) are permitted to circulate on Monday, July 20; Wednesday, July 22; and Friday, July 24. Motorcycles, pedestrians, and other modes of non-vehicular transportation are exempt from these restrictions. All private vehicular mobility will be restricted on Sunday, July 26. 

Curfew Hours: Guatemala’s national mandatory curfew remains in place, running from 6:00 p.m. each evening through 5:00 a.m. the following day. In addition, an extended curfew will be in place on weekends, beginning Saturday, July 25 at 2:00 p.m., and extending through 5:00 a.m. the following Monday. This means that a full 24-hour curfew will be in place on Sunday, July 26. Every individual in Guatemala — including U.S. citizens — is required to remain inside their domicile during curfew hours (with exceptions for health and security, restaurant delivery services, certain media and legal personnel in pursuit of their duties, and patients receiving urgent treatment for chronic conditions). 

Guidance on Inter-Department Travel: The suspension on inter-departmental travel has been lifted, but the government of Guatemala has urged individuals to avoid travel into, out of, or between the departments of Guatemala, Escuintla, Sacatepequez, Suchitepequez, Izabal, El Progreso, Zacapa, Santa Rosa and Quetzaltenango. U.S. citizens should remain cautious while traveling between departments as some municipalities maintain their own restrictions and checkpoints and may only permit local residents to enter their communities.

Operating Hours for Essential Businesses: Supermarkets, grocers, other markets, and essential businesses are permitted to operate from 6:00 a.m. through 4:00 p.m. Shopping malls and large commercial centers remain closed. 

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. 

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. 

State of Prevention: The government of Guatemala has announced an extension of the State of Prevention, until July 30, 2020, for the municipalities of Nahualá, Santa Lucía Utatlán, and Santa Catarina Ixtahuacán in the Department of Sololá. The State of Prevention is due to the ongoing security situation in the area caused by territorial disputes. Increased military and police presence can be expected in the area throughout the State of Prevention period. 

Update on American citizen services: 

As a reminder, due to COVID-19-related health and safety measures, the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City has suspended all routine consular services for U.S. citizens as of Monday, June 22, and continuing until further notice. 

While this suspension is in effect, the Embassy will provide passport services on an emergency basis only. U.S. citizens with expired or soon-to-expire passports who have imminent travel plans to the United States may request an emergency appointment at the Embassy through the following email address: amcitsguatemala@state.gov. The Embassy urges U.S. citizens to communicate all requests and confirm all appointment times through this e-mail; for health and safety reasons, the Embassy may not be able to accommodate walk-in requests. 

The Embassy continues to accept adult passport renewal applications by mail. For more information on this process, please click here

Due to reduced operations at U.S. domestic facilities, U.S. citizens who have previously applied for routine passport or Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) services may expect delays in receiving their documents. Applicants with documents in transit who have imminent travel plans to the United States may apply for emergency passports by scheduling an emergency appointment through the email address listed below. As a reminder, U.S. citizen children do not require a CRBA to qualify for an emergency passport. 

Repatriation Flights in July: 

The United States Embassy in Guatemala continues to facilitate repatriation flights to the United States during the period in which international air travel is suspended due to COVID-19. At present, United Airlines has flights scheduled through the end of July to the George Bush Intercontinental/Houston Airport (IAH), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD), and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). Spirit Airlines had originally scheduled a flight to Florida on July 22; please note that this flight has been cancelled.

The availability of flights in August and beyond is not yet known, but the Embassy will post information as it becomes available. The Embassy reminds American citizens that there is no guarantee that these flights will operate indefinitely through the end of the COVID-19 crisis. American citizens who wish to return to the United States and, in particular, persons with underlying medical conditions or who are otherwise at high-risk for severe illness with COVID-19, should consider taking one of these flights. 

Passengers seeking tickets or information for these flights and passengers seeking assistance with inquiries related to any cancelled flights should reach out to the airlines directly at https://www.united.com or VentasGUA@united.com.

Guidance for American Citizens: 

The United States Embassy in Guatemala urges all U.S. citizens to comply with the restrictions imposed by the complete closure of the country, as well as all other restrictions and regulations outlined above. 

As a reminder for U.S. citizens registered in the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), your registration expires automatically based on the dates entered and you will not receive updates after that date. Update your account to show that you are still in Guatemala.  Follow these instructions to keep receiving messages from the STEP Program. From within your account settings, update to INDEFINITE to ensure that you continue receiving messages. If you have any trouble, please email CASTEP@state.gov

Please contact AmcitsGuatemala@state.gov for any urgent inquiries. 

Assistance: 

U.S. Embassy Guatemala City https://gt.usembassy.gov Tel. (502) 2326-4000 Amcitsguatemala@state.gov

State Department – Consular Affairs 888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444

Guatemala Country Information and Travel Advisory:

Enroll in Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security updates

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