Health Alert: U.S. Embassy Panama City, Panama (June 19, 2020)

Event:  COVID-19 Situation Report and Reminders

On June 18, Panama’s Ministry of Health (MINSA) confirmed 23,351 cases of COVID-19.

On June 17, the Government of Panama extended the suspension of international commercial passenger flights for an additional 30 days through July 22.  The previous exceptions for cargo, humanitarian, medical supplies, medical evacuation, and vaccines remain in place.

On June 7, MINSA published a resolution regarding movement restrictions in the provinces of Panama and Panama Oeste.  These provinces returned to movement restrictions based on gender and ID number beginning June 8.  Gender restrictions allow for movements as follows:

  • Women:  Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
  • Men:  Tuesday and Thursday. Saturday until 5pm

Additionally, movement are restricted to a two-hour window based on the last digit of each individual’s cedula number or passport number if an individual is not a citizen of Panama.  U.S. Citizens in Panama should always carry their passports, and their Panamanian cedula if they have one.  The two-hour windows are as follows:

  • Last number is 7 – 6:30 – 8:30am
  • Last number is 8 – 7:30 – 9:30am
  • Last number is 9 – 8:30 – 10:30am
  • Last number is 0 – 9:30 – 11:30am
  • Last number is 1 – 12:30 – 2:30pm
  • Last number is 2 – 1:30 – 3:30pm
  • Last number is 3 – 2:30 – 4:30pm
  • Last number is 4 – 3:30 – 5:30pm
  • Last number is 5 – 4:30 – 6:30pm
  • Last number is 6 – 5:30 – 7:30pm
  • There is a special window for those over 60 years old, regardless of cedula or passport numbers, between 7:00am and 10:00am (gender restrictions still apply).
  • Weekend curfew for the month of June is from from 5:00pm on Saturday until 5:00am on Monday.
  • Normal exceptions apply for holders of permission letters (salvoconductos)
  • Parents may take one child per family outside near their home or in the social areas of their apartment building during the two-hour window of the accompanying parent.

Hours of circulation during the total quarantine are intended only for essential purchases by one person per household.   The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens in Panama that it is always obligatory to comply with local laws.  Other provinces in Panama will continue with the curfew that began on June 1 (see details below). 

MINSA reminds citizens and residents of Panama that staying at home, not touching your face, and washing your hands frequently are the best means of prevention against COVID-19.  It also requires the use of masks, even homemade ones, when in public.

The Embassy encourages everyone to prepare accordingly.  Take the opportunity to stock up on any medicines and food supplies you may need to shelter in place in your homes for an extended period of time.

On June 11, MINSA announced that a health cordon has been declared in the community of Iber-Gun, in the township of Cristobal, Colon Province.  Health cordons were also announced on June 4 for the communities of Pantanal and Finca 1 in Changuinola, and Solución in Bocas del Toro.

Effective June 8, Panama’s National Immigration Service opened and started a 90-day period during which foreigners may submit applications to maintain or adjust their immigration status in Panama without incurring fines.  This applies to applicants whose immigration status expired between March 13 and June 7.  For more details see www.migración.gob.pa.

On June 2, 2020, MINSA published a resolution stating that anyone leaving their residence must be wearing a mask that covers their nose and mouth.  Any individual not wearing a mask is subject to possible detention and fine.

Starting June 1, the Government of Panama ended the quarantine with movement restrictions based on ID number and gender.  This change remains in effect for all provinces except Panama and Panama Oeste.  For all other provinces, the quarantine and two-hour movement windows were replaced by a curfew from 7 pm to 5 am, Monday through Sunday.  Children are also free to move about from 4 pm to 7 pm, accompanied by a parent, guardian, or caretaker.  The use of masks and social distancing are still required.  This new flexibility does not permit social group activities, cultural events, festivals, visits to the beach, contact sports, or any other activity that violates social distancing.  The Government of Panama still maintains security checkpoints on the roads and prohibits most interprovincial travel.

Also on June 1, the second economic block opened. The sectors included in that block are: public construction, mining of non-metals, and industry.  Religious sites, parks, social areas, and sporting areas are also allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity.  For more details about the Government of Panama’s plan to gradually reopen the economy, see the infographic in this tweet from MINSA or go to the Embassy’s COVID-19 information page (see link below).  The Government of Panama will evaluate every two weeks, but the date for opening additional business blocks remains unknown.

On April 21, the Municipal Council of the City of Panama passed a new decree stating that anyone leaving their residence must be wearing a mask that covers their nose and mouth.  Panamanian National Police and Municipal Police will enforce the decree which extends throughout the metropolitan area of Panama City.

On March 26, Panama announced the nationwide suspension of commercial passenger and domestic charter flights, in addition to the ban on international commercial passenger flights.  There are exceptions for cargo, humanitarian, medical supplies, medical evacuation, and vaccines.

On March 19, the U.S. Department of State issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory, advising U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.   In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.

The Embassy is working on evacuation options via commercial humanitarian and military flights for those U.S. Citizens wishing to depart Panama.  Please express your interest in consideration for potential evacuation flights by emailing:  PanamaCityUSCitizen@state.gov.

On March 17, U.S. Embassy Panama suspended routine consular services.  For emergency American Citizens Services, including emergency passports, please visit our website for additional information.

On March 14, the Department of State authorized the departure from any diplomatic or consular post in the world of U.S. personnel and family members who have been medically determined to be at higher risk of a poor outcome if exposed to COVID-19.

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak the Peace Corps has reduced/evacuated all Volunteers from Panama.

The Government of Panama has implemented enhanced quarantine measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  Travelers should be prepared for further travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice.  Visit the website of the Panamanian Ministry of Health (in Spanish) for the most up to date information on these measures.

Schools and universities are closed nation-wide.  Sporting events, festivals, and all gatherings larger than 50 people have been banned.  Visit the local government COVID-19 website for updated information.

The Department of State has issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory for COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Global COVID-19 Outbreak Notice.

U.S. government personnel are restricted from non-essential domestic and international travel.

Messages to U.S. citizens with updates on repatriation flights are sent daily to citizens living in Panama while the Embassy is assisting with approved flights from Panama to the United States.  Messages providing updated COVID-19 case numbers and information about the measures taken to combat COVID-19 in Panama will now be sent once per week, unless there are significant changes requiring immediate updates.

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