Coronavirus COVID-19 chronology in Guatemala

Lester Meda

Due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), the Government of Guatemala decreed through a Government Decree (5-2020) a State of Public Calamity for 30 days throughout the country, this declaration began its validity on March 5th, 2020. 

  • Also, the "Presidential Provisions in the event of Public Calamity and Orders for strict compliance" were decreed, dated March 16th, 2020, which also reinforced the provisions of the State of Calamity.
  • As a result of the two decrees already indicated, individual freedoms are restricted, such as the right of association, protest and locomotion.
  • Besides, the activity of the work centers is limited, establishing hygiene measures and cleaning protocols to be followed. "Home office" has been promoted. And it has been repeatedly recommended that everyone who would not need to leave home should avoid being out of it.
  • The country's borders are closed. And anyone who had doubts about a possible infection or had returned in the last two weeks, are quarantined.
  • On March 21st, the declaration of the State of Public Calamity was modified to provide further clarity to those who were allowed to continue operating, distinguishing those services or jobs that were considered essential, and therefore could not close.
  • On that same date, modifications were presented to the "Presidential Provisions in the event of Public Calamity and Orders for Strict Compliance", extending the term of the State of Public Calamity for an additional 30 days. Also, a curfew was established, which began on Sunday, March 22th 2020, and will end on March 29th, 2020, between 4:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m.
  • In addition, greater control of the prices of basic necessities was ordered, and an order to avoid hoarding them.
  • Congress ratified all these agreements as part of the formalities for their validity. 
  • The Judicial System has only the criminal instances open. It processes only essential proceedings, the Appeals and Court Chambers of the same hierarchy are also working, in addition to continuing the procedure for the defense of constitutional guarantees (Amparo, habeas corpus, unconstitutionality).
  • The registries and files are closed. They gradually decreased their activities until they closed entirely, except for the Protocol File that allows the registration of mandates for emergency criminal hearings. In general, the public sector is operating at its minimum capacity.
  • The Superintendency of Tax Administration (SAT) ordered the suspension of tax payment, and of all the inspection activities and processes carried out by the institution until April 15th, 2020.
  • It should be noted that each period that has been indicated may be extended or reduced depending on the development of the Pandemic in the country.
  • Finally, on Tuesday, March 24th, 2020, the Congress of the Republic of Guatemala approved a regulation called "Law to Protect Guatemalans from the effects caused by the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic", which, although still it has not been published, it will be on any of the following days. In this law (which will be identified as Decree 12-2020), various measures are included such as suspending the collection of credits from banking and credit entities, and a large number of loans for different items from investment, health, education, social assistance, up to maintenance costs and payment of public administration salaries. Another aspect included was the suspension for three months of the administrative deadlines.

In summary, the country is in a semi-paralysis (public and private areas), the official communication indicates that measures were taken to relax or increase controls as the crisis unfolds, this has made the country's productive activity also suffers. It has even begun to generate the need to review the obligations of some contracts and determine the possibility of deferring payments or adjusting them.