Guatemala reopened its borders with Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Belize on Friday after six months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City was also reopened.
The news comes on the same day that Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei announced that he has tested positive for Covid-19 and will remain in quarantine.
The Ministry of Health has implemented health protocols for travelers who will be allowed to enter the country if they can show officials at land borders a negative coronavirus test conducted within the past 72 hours.
Travelers arriving at the La Aurora airport who cannot provide recent, negative test results will undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine supervised by authorities from the Ministries of Public Health and Social Assistance.
At the La Mesilla-Ciudad Cuauhtémoc border with Chiapas, commercial activity immediately resumed at around 1:00 p.m. yesterday, although travelers must pass through a health checkpoint. Soldiers are enforcing the mandatory use of masks, which has been the policy in the country for the past six months.
The border crossings between Mexico and Guatemala that were officially reopened Friday are La Mesilla-Ciudad Cuauhtémoc, El Carmen-Talismán, Gracias a Dios-Carmen Xhan, Ingenieros en la Selva and Tenosique, Tabasco.
However, unofficial crossings between the two countries have been frequent since the pandemic began, with people crossing back and forth on rafts typically made by lashing scraps of wood to inner tubes or wading across the river’s shallow waters, hauling their goods in plastic bags held above their heads.
The reopening of borders is part of a plan to gradually ease restrictions on various economic activities such as public transit, restaurants, tourism and churches, through a traffic light system according to the number of active infections in each of the country’s 340 municipalities, of which 59% are on high alert.
Guatemala, which has a population of just over 17 million, registered its first case of coronavirus on March 13. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, Guatemala has reported 84,344 accumulated cases of the coronavirus and 3,076 deaths. Mexico has 688,954 reported cases with 72,803 deaths attributed to the virus.
Source: El Universal (sp)