Nicaragua Establishes Protocol for National and Foreign Travelers

The closure of borders and severe mobility restrictions forced thousands of migrants, mostly from Haiti and from African and Asian countries, to remain stranded in Central American countries without the possibility of continuing their route to North America, which is their destination. EFE / Gustavo Amador / Archive

Nicaraguans have been stranded on the borders and at sea for months, waiting for a response to their demand to re-enter the country

By Vladimir Vasquez (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – The Ministry of Health (MINSA) finally decided to establish an entry protocol for national and foreign travelers after four months since it acknowledge the first Covid-19 infection in the country, last March, and after three months with thousands of Nicaraguans stranded demanding that they be allowed to re-enter Nicaragua.

According to resolution, MINSA will request travelers a test with a negative result of Covid-19 that has been carried out in a period not exceeding 72 hours before their entry and in the case that they are foreign travelers who test positive, they will not be allowed to enter the country.

Likewise, those who test negative and are allowed to enter the country, may move freely, provided they do not have any respiratory symptom. Furthermore, the MINSA indicates that they will be monitored by telephone by health personnel for a period of 14 days.

By contrast, those nationals who test positive will be able to enter the country, but according to the same document, “they must stay in their homes according to the established protocols,” although it was not clarified what those protocols will be.

Late entry protocol

In practice, the MINSA was already applying many of these measures with Nicaraguans who were looking for how to enter the country through different borders, and in the case of those who were trying to reach the country from Panama, the request of a Covid-19 test with 72 hours in advance caused delays in the repatriation of many of them.

The complaint has been made by the Panamanian Immigration authorities in June, when they also alerted that Nicaragua, despite having reached an agreement with authorities of that country and Costa Rica to allow passage of more than 1,180 migrants, decided unilaterally to hinder the process with different obstacles.

Other limitations imposed by the Ortega regime were that they would only allow the entry of children, the elderly and pregnant women, in addition to the request for documentation 72 hours before they could start the trip.

Airport ensures that it is “ready”

This same July 14, the Nicaraguan Institute of Civil Aeronautics (INAC) reported that it presented a resolution before the Airports Advisory Council, to resume the activities of the International Airport, which it claims is “ready” to resume airline operations, scheduled for August, after the last extension in July.

The resolution indicates that “air operators must comply with the provisions of the Ministry of Health in Ministerial Resolution No. 346-2020, of July thirteen, 2020, which also includes passengers, and crew.”

In addition, it establishes that in the case of operators who request to make passenger, humanitarian or repatriation charter flights, they must comply with the Minsa resolution, including a fumigation certificate, a detailed list of passengers arriving or departing, with a copy of their passports, certificate of airworthiness and registration, insurance policy, health certificate and crew license, among other requirements, submitted at least 72 hours before the date of operation, which states “it is authorized once it has been notified by the Aeronautic Authority.”

274 Nicaraguans stranded enter

According to a press release by the Nicaraguan Migration and Immigration Directorate, at four o’clock in the afternoon on Monday, July 13th, 100 more Nicaraguans entered the country who were stranded in Panamá. However, despite not clarifying whether any of them tested positive for Covid-19, it is indicated that they will be quarantined for 14 days and monitored.

Immigration also informed that on the same day, but half an hour later, 174 nationals arrived from Barbados. They were crew members of the Royal Caribbean Cruise ships and who are part of a group of 239 Nicaraguans who requested to be allowed to enter Nicaragua at the beginning of June.

It is unknown when the rest of the crew of the ships that have not been allowed to enter the country will be allowed to enter, as well as the Nicaraguan citizens stranded in Panama, Honduras and Guatemala.