[Reprinted: Miami Herald, 3-24-2020 Edited]
This article was edited to reflect the measures taken only by Caribbean nations. Also, it is assumed that since this article was published the numbers of infected persons have increased throughout the region.
As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, Latin American and Caribbean nations are enacting a number of drastic measures to try to combat the coronavirus. Here is a snapshot of some of the steps being taken in the hemisphere as of Tuesday, March 24. Measures have become even more stringent, with places like the Turks and Caicos and French overseas territories instituting stricter measures. There are only a handful of countries that have not confirmed cases, while many more have cut themselves off to U.S. flights and tourists from elsewhere.
Anguilla: There are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date in the British overseas territory. Effective March 20, all airports and seaports were closed for 14 days to all passengers, only the movement of goods allowed. All persons arriving in Anguilla who have traveled outside of the Caribbean region within the last 14 days will be quarantined for 14 days on arrival. All non-essential travel for public servants is suspended. Schools are to remain closed until April 3. The government had previously announced a ban on direct flights originating from Europe, including the United Kingdom, for the next 14 days; a ban on cruise ships with passengers who had visited Europe in the last two weeks and a 45-day ban on public and private large gatherings that are likely to involve visitors from overseas.
Antigua and Barbuda: There are three cases following confirmation of its first confirmed COVID-19 case on March 13. At the time, the government announced a 30-day ban on all parties, festivals and similar social gatherings. Foreign nationals who have traveled to and from China, Italy, Iran, Japan, Korea and Singapore the past 28 days are not being allowed in. Citizens of Antigua and Barbuda as well as resident diplomats will be allowed entry.
Aruba: On Monday, March 23, Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes announced a third case the coronavirus. Two days after the government of Aruba confirmed its first two positive COVID-19 cases on March 13, officials announced a complete “lockdown” for all international incoming passengers starting at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, March 17 until March 31. Residents will still be able to enter, but the government is advising against nonessential travel. Cargo will continue to be able to be flown in and relief flights will be possible as long as the airline is willing to operate them.
Bahamas: The country is under a complete lockdown after confirmed COVID-19 cases rose to five and a 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew was extended to 24 hours, effective Tuesday, March 24. All Bahamians are to remain confined to their homes. All airports, seaports and public beaches are closed. No tourists are allowed to enter the country. The penalty for breaking the orders is a fine of up to $10,000, up to 18 months in prison or both. The government had already closed businesses, schools until April 14, banned parties and public gatherings and imposed travel restrictions for nonresidents who had traveled to China, Iran, Italy,South Korea, and Europe in the last 20 days. Returning residents are subjected to quarantine for a maximum of 14 days if they have visited the countries. All national sporting events and permits for use of public spaces also suspended.
Barbados: The country confirmed its 18th case Tuesday, March 24, and has temporarily suspended outgoing international mail due to the coronavirus. Last week, Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced in Parliament that Barbadian-born songstress Rihanna has offered to donate $700,000 worth of ventilators to the island-nation. On March 19, Mottley declared that all persons coming from the U.S., U.K. and the rest of Europe will need to self-quarantine for 14 days. Mottley, who had been reluctant to implement travel restrictions, made the announcement after confirming Barbados now had five confirmed cases. Barbados had announced a restriction on public gatherings to no more than 100 people, suspension of visits to nursing homes and Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Bermuda: After Premier David Burt confirmed six cases of COVID-19 in the British territory on Sunday, March, 22, he ordered the closure of most retail stores and cinemas to shut their doors. He said 1,400 hotel workers have been laid off as a result of the pandemic. Bermuda had previously called for all arriving passengers as of March 17 to self quarantine for 14 days, and be subject to Public Health monitoring, the government said. There is a travel ban for visitors arriving from countries where there is a sustained community spread of COVID-19. There are no confirmed cases.
Bonaire: The government of Bonaire said there were no confirmed cases. It previously announced a suspension of flights from Europe until March 31. This includes flights originating in the European Netherlands. A 30-day ban on cruise ships also took effect on March 14.
British Virgin Islands: The British territory has not recorded any COVID-19 cases to date. But as of 12:01 a.m. Monday, March 23, the country’s airports and seaports were shut to inbound and outgoing passengers until April 6. Internal travel between the four main islands of Anegada, Tortola, Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke will continue. Non-essential gatherings of 20 persons or more are prohibited, and all businesses, services and recreational facilities have also been ordered closed between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. until April 17. The government previously banned cruise ships for 30 days starting on March 14, and announced the immediate closure of the Tortola cruise port. The BVI also limited international arrivals to just three ports.
Cayman Islands: Effective Tuesday, March 24, Caymanians came under a 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew after the British overseas territory confirmed two more cases, to bring its total to 5, including one death. The curfew will initially be in force 10 days and reassessed by the Police Commissioner every 48 hours. Anyone breaking curfew will be subject to arrest without a warrant and on summary conviction will be liable to a fine of $3,590 fine or imprisonment for one year, or both. Inbound passenger air traffic has ceased and, as of Sunday, March 22, restaurants are only allowed to do take outs and delivery. The government has also hardened a ban on public gatherings, including church services, from 50 persons to no more than 10 people. Exempt businesses must put provisions in the workplace to prevent employees from coming within six feet of each other, Premier Alden McLaughlin announced. The government had already suspended international mail services until April 13; banned cruise ships for 60 days and closed schools until April 26. Effective March 13, a 60-day travel ban was expanded to include visitors from the 26-country Schengen bloc in Europe, China, Iran, Japan and South Korea. The British overseas territory recorded its first COVID-19 related death on March 14, a 68-year-old Italian cruise ship passenger with a heart condition. At least two of the cases worked at Health City Cayman Hospital, where the man had been hospitalized.
Cuba: After weeks of keeping the country open, the government announced March 20 it would no longer take tourists starting Tuesday, March 24. Only Cubans who reside on the island and foreign citizens who are permanent residents or work on the island will be able to re-enter the country, and they will be put into quarantine for 14 days in medical facilities. Under these rules, Cuban Americans and Cubans permanently living abroad won’t be allowed in. Cubans living on the island are not allowed to travel overseas until further notice. Tourists who have not yet left the country will be confined to state-run hotels. Schools will be closed starting as of March 24 at least until April 20.
Curaçao: There are four confirmed cases, including one death. As of Sunday, March 15, Hato Airport in Curacao was closed to all traffic from Europe until further notice. The decision came after Curacao recorded its first positive case. The government has enacted temporary restrictions on flights and has limited incoming traffic to returning residents, essential medical specialists, nurses, and professionals. The airport has also suspended all operations of its immigration E-Gates to control the spread of COVID-19.
Dominica: On Tuesday, March 24, the island’s Catholic bishop suspended all religious gatherings following the government’s confirmation the previous day of its second positive COVID-19 case. Bishop Gabriel Malzaire also said funerals should be attended by no more than 10 persons and take place in a reasonable short period of time. The government also announced a ban on all public gatherings of more than 10 persons; non-essential public services are also suspended. Dominica registered its first case on Sunday, March 22, and in both cases, the patients had travel history involving the United Kingdom. The country had previously banned all travel to and from China. Arriving passengers must complete a health declaration form and be screened for elevated body temperature. Anyone showing flu-like symptoms or who has been to an affected area in the past 14 days may be placed in 14-day home quarantine.
Dominican Republic: As of Tuesday, March 24, the country, which shares the same island as Haiti, saw its confirmed COVID-19 cases jump to 312 — a 67-case increase from the previous day. It has registered six deaths including that of famed designer Jenny Polanco on March 24 after testing positive. The island announced its first death on March 16, a 47-year-old woman who recently returned from Spain, along with a country total of 21. The next day the country announced that as of March 17, it was suspending all international flights for 15 days as well as closing its land border with Haiti, though deportations continue and Haitians continue to cross over through the barriers. Most hotels have said they are ceasing operations due to zero occupancy. The country previously canceled flights from Milan, Italy, and announced travelers from locations with a higher incidence of COVID-19 cases may be subject to additional screening or self-isolation.
Grenada: Effective Monday, March 23, all airports were closed to commercial flights after the government announced Sunday its first confirmed COVID-19 case: A 50-year-old female who arrived from the United Kingdom on March 16. The country had previously said travelers who have been to Hong Kong, China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Iran, Italy, or Germany in the last 14 days are subject to quarantine or other restrictions.
Guadeloupe: There are 62 confirmed cases including one death. The travel restriction and stringent measures applied to Martinique, also are in place for Guadeloupe, French St. Martin and French Guiana. For more information, travelers should visit the public health website.
Haiti: As of Wednesday, March 25, the country confirmed 8 cases, including a Belgian national who operates an orphanage and a popular artist who recently returned from France. President Jovenel Moïse confirmed the country’s first two positive COVID-19 cases on Thursday, March 19, and announced sweeping new “lockdown” measures. A partial travel ban that still allowed flights from Cuba and the United States was expanded to a full shutdown of the country’s two international airports and seaports. Schools, universities and factories were also closed, and an 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew was imposed. Declaring a state of emergency, Moïse said gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited and the population should practice social distancing. Over the March 21 weekend, police arrested several pastors and Vodou priests, accusing them of defying the order. Four managers and owners of supermarkets and pharmacies were also arrested, accused of price gouging. All have been provisionally released. These measures are in addition to a closure of the country’s border with the Dominican Republic and a ban on foreign travel by members of the government.
Jamaica: The country confirmed 21 cases as of Monday, March 23. Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the country is approaching the community transmission, which usually means an escalation in COVID-19 cases. The government had previously announced limits on the number of people allowed in taxis and restaurants and restrictions for visitors who must remain confined to their hotels. All non-essential employees also must work from home. The government had also announced a two-week closure of schools, and a ban on all public gatherings. There’s also a ban on travel for individuals who have visited China, Iran, South Korea, Italy and Singapore along with the suspension of flights from Spain, France and Germany. Parts of the island remain under quarantine and the government recruited retired medical professionals. Holness has declared Jamaica a disaster area because of the threat of the coronavirus infections and said he was seeking 100 Cuban nurses to help.
Martinique: As of Monday, March 23, the French overseas territory reported 44 COVID-19 cases. Following a quarantine implemented by the French government, tourists are encouraged to leave and locals must remain in confinement until further notice. In order to go out for any reason an exemption certificate is required. All leisure activities, restaurants, bars and businesses are closed. Public transportation is no longer in operation. After having no travel restrictions, stringent measures have been imposed in the French Caribbean: No cruises, maritime transportation or inbound flights allowed. All international flights to and from Martinique are interrupted as of Monday, March 23, 2020. Flights from Martinique to France have been restricted and apply between the five French overseas Islands: Saint-Martin, Saint Barthélemy Guadeloupe, French Guiana and Martinique. Travelers returning from risk zones are asked to monitor their temperature, wear a surgical mask, reduce non-essential activities, and avoid places with at-risk individuals for 14 days. For more information, travelers should visit the public health website.
Montserrat: The government confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on March 17. It was among several suspected cases being investigated after a flight with Antigua and Montserrat-bound passengers turned up positive in Antigua. Prior to the news, officials had already restricted gatherings in excess of 50 people until April 3. Schools are also closed until April 3. St. Patrick’s Festival activities were also officially canceled and contrary to previous reports, the ferry service between Antigua and Montserrat remain operational.
Puerto Rico: The U.S. territory declared a state of emergency, and closed its beaches, parks and all non-essential businesses from March 16 through March 30. Gov. Wanda Vazquez is asking residents to stay home and for people not to visit the island during the crisis. All airports, except the principle international airport in San Juan, are closed to commercial aviation. There is also a 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
St. Barthelemy: The French overseas territory has reported three infection cases. Restrictions for Martinique apply here as well.
St. Kitts and Nevis: With no confirmed cases as of Wednesday, March 25, the government announced the closure of the country’s borders to all commercial flights as of 12:01 a.m. Thursday, March 26 until April 7. Medical emergency flights, and international cargo via ships will still be allowed. Nationals and residents living overseas who failed to return by the deadline will need to remain offshore until the border closing is lifted, the government said. The government previously had no travel restrictions but all incoming air passengers were required to list the countries they had visited in the last six weeks. It also asked anyone who had traveled to the following countries in the last 14 days to not visit: China, Italy, Iran, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain. Persons who arrived in St. Kitts & Nevis from these destinations are subjected to a mandatory 14-day quarantine period following screening at the port of entry. The same applied to residents and citizens. It also prohibited passengers exhibiting flu-like symptoms from disembarking as well as those who had visited the restricted COVID-19 countries. The prime minister also announced the recruiting of more officers, updating the travel advisory and restricting visits to elderly centers and prisons.
St. Lucia: After confirming three cases, the government declared a state of emergency on Monday, March 23, and announced a partial scale down of all non-essential economic and social activities until April 5. All airports are closed to incoming commercial and private flights. Cargo flights and repatriation flights from Saint Lucia will be permitted. Only restaurants that do take out, delivery or drive-thru are allowed to operate. In an effort to contain the disease, the government had already closed schools, banned cruise ships, imposed travel restrictions for several countries and scaled back non-essential services. Persons who travel from the U.S. within the last 14 days who develop respiratory symptoms will be isolated and tested for COVID-19. Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, who went into self-quarantine after experiencing a cough upon following a visit to Miami, reported he tested negative for COVID-19.
St. Martin: There are currently eight confirmed cases. The measures in place for Martinique and other French overseas territories apply in St. Martin as well.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines: The country reported its only COVID-19 case so far on March 11. Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has announced that he will seek help from Cuba to combat the coronavirus. He also said his administration is seeking to employ at least 20 nurses locally in addition to three medical doctors from Havana, who specialize in handling infectious diseases, including COVID-19, according to local press reports. To limit spread of the virus through its nine inhabited islands and cays, the government has ordered the suspension of certain formal ports of entry while the hours of operation at other ports will be expanded in some instances.
Sint Maarten: The Dutch territory now has two confirmed cases after the government registered its first case of COVID-19 on March 17. Effective that day, all international flights and cruises originating from the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom to Sint Maarten were canceled for 21 days, upgraded from two weeks. Travelers from China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Korea , Macao, Singapore, Spain and Germany in the past 21 days, were also banned from transiting or entering St. Maarten. The travel restriction also applies to other seafaring vessels, according to a travel advisory from the U.S. Consulate General in Curacao. U.S. citizens who wish to depart Sint Maarten on planes to the United States after March 17 will still be allowed to do so.
Turks and Caicos: On Monday, March 23, the British overseas territory confirmed its first case. After weeks of promoting that its international airports were still open while others were closing their borders, the territory announced no visitors will be allowed to enter for 21 days effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, March 25. Airports and seaports will only be open for cargo, returning residents and emergency international and regional flights. Hospitals have restricted visiting hours. Schools are closed until April 20. The Turks and Caicos Islands Hospital received a public health notification that a temporary worker who visited the country March 8 to 13 to train hospital employees tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after his return to the U.S. Investigations are ongoing to determine how and at what point in time he may have contracted the virus. The temporary worker is a 35-year-old American man and he is currently being isolated at home in the U.S. in stable condition.
Trinidad and Tobago: The health ministry reported 53 confirmed cases on Tuesday, March 24, including the first positive COVID-19 case in Tobago. The news came several days after the health ministry reported that 41 out of 68 passengers on the ill-fated Costa Favalosa cruise ship had tested positive after returning home from Guadeloupe. The country has closed its borders to all international flights, expanded COVID-19 testing and designated March 29 as a National Day of Prayer. It also previously announced: the closure of the National Archives’ public search room until further notice, restrictions on hospital visiting hours and visitors and closure of the country’s land and sea borders to non-nationals for 14 days, effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. The twin-island also has Imposed a fine of $889 or six months in prison for those who breach quarantine.
U.S. Virgin Islands: Effective Wednesday, March 25, the U.S. Virgin Islands will close its doors to all visitors for 30 days. The U.S. territory now has 17 confirmed cases. Hotels, guest houses, bed and breakfasts and charter vessels also are restricted from accepting new guests. Governor Albert Bryan Jr. has ordered all non-essential businesses, including bars, closed and for residents to stay at home. No in-restaurant dining is allowed. The territory had previously instituted travel restrictions similar to those announced by President Donald Trump, which includes China and Iran, and certain European countries.