Update For U.S. Citizens: Changes to COVID-19 Restrictions by the Government of Guatemala

May 14, 2020

Location: Guatemala

Event:   On Thursday, May 14th, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei announced the imposition of new restrictions to movement and activities, to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus.  These restrictions include the following:

Closure of Country Until Monday, May 18
The President announced the complete closure of Guatemala, effective immediately and lasting through Monday, May 18 at 5:00 a.m.  During this period, all non-essential travel and public activities are prohibited, including cargo transportation of all but certain designated commodities.  This restriction does not apply to the distribution and delivery of food, medicine, and propane fuel, or to security-related activities or emergency medical treatment.  To allow for procurement of essential supplies, small neighborhood shops will be permitted to operate on May 15-17 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.  Customers may only travel to these shops by foot.

The Embassy advises U.S. citizens that this complete closure applies to commercial air travel from Guatemala to the United States.  In light of this announcement, United Airlines has cancelled its outgoing flights on May 15th and 16th.  Passengers manifested on these flights should reach out to the airline directly at https://www.united.com or VentasGUA@united.com for additional information.

The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala will remain open, to assist with emergency situations only, during the periods of complete closure.  U.S. Citizens with urgent inquiries can contact the Embassy by e-mail at Amcitsguatemala@state.gov, or by telephone at (502) 2326-4000.

On Monday, May 18 at 5:00 a.m., the period of complete closure will conclude, and Guatemala will resume limited activities, operating on a modified curfew schedule (see below).

The government of Guatemala is anticipated to close the country once again on Thursday, May 20 at 5:00 p.m., extending to Monday, May 25 at 5:00 a.m.  The Embassy advises U.S. citizens that the government of Guatemala may re-institute a complete closure of the country, or apply other restrictions to travel and other activities, at any time.

Extended Curfew Hours
The hours of Guatemala’s mandatory curfew have been extended, and now run from 5:00 p.m. through 5:00 a.m. the following day for each day that the country is not completely closed.  For next week, these curfew hours will be in effect from Monday, May 18 through Thursday, May 21.  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).

Reduced Operating Hours for Open-Air Markets, Supermarkets and Convenience Stores
Beginning Monday, May 18, open-air markets, supermarkets and convenience stores will only be permitted to operate on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  Open-air markets will be allowed to operate from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. on these days, and supermarkets and convenience stores will be allowed to operate from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Ongoing Restrictions
In addition to these new or expanded restrictions, the following restrictions are still in place:

Inter-Departmental Travel: all travel between departments in Guatemala is prohibited.  The Embassy is not able to assist in procuring waivers to this prohibition on an individual basis.

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.

As noted above, the Embassy will not be able to facilitate transportation to the airport during the period of complete closure from May 14-18.

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.

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 Page

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

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