March 27, 2020
Event: Recently the Guatemalan government has taken expanded measures aimed at protecting the health and safety of all persons in Guatemala, including U.S. citizens. This message explains the differences between three of the official measures the Guatemalan government has taken, and how these measures impact U.S. citizens currently in Guatemala: 1) the state of calamity, 2) closing of borders, and 3) a national curfew. There have also been reports of local Guatemalan communities taking unofficial steps aiming to protect themselves, referred to below as “blockades.”
The U.S. Embassy requests that all U.S. citizens in Guatemala abide by the official policies of the Guatemalan government, and follow official updates by both the Guatemalan government and the U.S. Embassy.
State of Calamity (Estado de calamidad)
The Guatemalan government declared a 30-day “state of calamity” on March 5th and then extended the expiration of this declaration to May 5th. Declaring a “state of calamity” allows the Guatemalan government to take exceptional measures to protect its national security (similar to a “state of emergency” in the United States). Under a state of calamity, the Guatemalan government can authorize specific actions, such as border closures and curfew (explained below). For updates related to the state of calamity, we refer you to the Guatemalan government.
Closing of Borders (Cierre de fronteras)
Following its declaration of a state of calamity on March 5th, the Guatemalan government announced that it would bar entry to most non-Guatemalans (with certain specific exceptions for health and security) — by its land, sea, and air borders. Currently Guatemala’s national borders are closed for entry until March 31st. The U.S. Embassy continues to work with the Guatemalan government to permit departure of certain flights for U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents from Guatemalan airspace to the United States. Under a declaration of a state of calamity, the Guatemalan government can adjust its policy on national border closings at any time. We refer you to the Guatemalan government for updated information on its national borders.
Curfew (Toque de queda)
Under its declaration of a state of calamity, the Guatemalan government also instituted a nationwide eight-day curfew from March 22nd through March 29th. The curfew lasts from 4:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. each day. Every individual in Guatemala — including U.S. citizens — is required to remain inside their domicile during curfew hours (with exceptions for health, security, delivery, and diplomatic personnel). Under a state of calamity, the Guatemalan government may extend the deadline of the curfew at any time. The U.S. Embassy reminds U.S. citizens in Guatemala that they are expected to obey the curfew, which is being enforced by Guatemalan law enforcement. Violators of the curfew restrictions risk arrest. More information on the curfew can be found on the U.S. Embassy website.
There are reports that some local Guatemalan communities are taking unofficial action to restrict individuals from entering or exiting their communities in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In some cases, non-Guatemalan citizens have been prevented from entering or leaving a community — or upon leaving, are not allowed to return. Several reports in this regard have come from communities surrounding Lake Atitlán. If any U.S. citizen feels they are in danger, they should call Guatemalan law enforcement at 120, 122, or 123 (the equivalent of “911” in the United States) and the U.S. Embassy (+502-2326-4000) to report the situation. For more information and updates, please call the Guatemalan tourism police at 1500 or visit the Guatemalan Tourist Authority.
Actions to take:
Read our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the COVID-19 crisis in Guatemala, and actions the U.S. Embassy is taking to assist U.S. citizens.
Review the State Department’s Global Level 4 Health Travel Advisory at www.travel.state.gov.
Consult the CDC website for the most up-to-date information.
For the most recent information on what you can do to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19 please see the CDC’s latest recommendations.
Visit the COVID-19 crisis page on travel.state.gov for the latest information.
Check with your airlines, cruise lines, or travel operators regarding any updated information about your travel plans and/or restrictions.
Visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website on the latest travel restrictions to the U.S.
Monitor local news for updates.
State Department – Consular Affairs
888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444
Enroll in Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security updates