Guyana Situation Report for September 2, 2020: Back To Business

With yesterday’s resumption of commercial international air travel, it is now practical for expatriates to travel back to Guyana. We have compiled some information to help you understand what you need to do before your flight, and what has changed on the ground since the pandemic hit.

Bear in mind that nearly all of the following will change over time, based on the local progress of the pandemic and security conditions. Please contact us if your company needs assistance understanding the realities on the ground and operating safely in Guyana.

COVID-19 Measures for Entering Guyana 

Foreign citizens are presently permitted to enter Guyana providing they have a negative COVID-19 test (PCR and/or serology) completed within 14 days of their intended arrival date.

Anyone entering Guyana must receive prior approval by completing a repatriation form and providing a copy of their negative PCR COVID-19 test (taken within 14 days of the scheduled flight). These two documents must be sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which after processing are passed to the Civil Aviation Authority for approval. Since this is a new process with uncertain volumes, we cannot yet speculate on the turnaround time for approval.

There are health screening procedures in place at both Cheddi Jagan airport and Ogle airport, which take the form of questionnaires on entry combined with thermal temperature readings on arriving to and departing from the airport.

It is advised that passengers monitor their respective foreign missions in Guyana for updates. The U.S, U.K, and Canadian  embassies post regular updates on both travel and security concerns in country.

Personal Security

Partisan tension has raised significantly following charges of fraud levied against members of the APNU+AFC Coalition and Guyana Elections Commission. Criminal charges have been brought against the former Minister of Health & Chairwoman of the PNC (the largest party in the Coalition), Volda Lawrence, and the District Four (Georgetown) Regional Officer, Clairmont Mingo, for alleged interference in the 2020 election process.

This has resulted in protests in both the capital of Georgetown and the East Coast town of Belladrum, Mr. Mingo’s hometown and the site of his arrest. Following protests that culminated in the blocking of roads, fires, and rubber bullet shootings from Police Force ranks in the early hours of August 30th, protests continued outside the law courts of Guyana with former President David Granger and leader of the Opposition Joe Harmon leading coalition supporters to protest against the actions of the new PPP/C government and public security services.

The supporting base of the Coalition are alleging that the arrests, detainment, and subsequent charges imposed by the Guyana Police Force are politically motivated and in violation of the constitutional rights of the persons concerned. Fears remain that as these proceedings develop, the relative calm temperament that presided over the elections recount process will boil over into further confrontations between Coalition supporters and the Police.

The U.S. Embassy issued a demonstration alert on Monday as concerns that foreign nationals may be the target of public discontent relating to the PPP/C 2020 election win. The electoral process had raised strong anti-international sentiment from the Coalition supporters, largely due to calls from the international community for their party to concede defeat.

Security forces remain on high alert in central Georgetown. It is advisable that expatriates working in Georgetown take extra precautions to monitor these events and adopt appropriate journey management if there are further escalations.

The recent increase in street robberies and targeted business robberies is a heightened risk for both domestic and expatriate workers in Georgetown. With public security forces already stretched to manage COVID prevention, election related court matters, and local protests, first responders in Guyana are under pressure.

Air Travel Updates

The following scheduled flights from the U.S to Georgetown have been announced by Eastern Airlines:

  • September 1, 8, 15 22, 29 – Departing Miami @ 08:30am, Arriving in Georgetown @ 12:55pm
  • September 1, 8, 15 22, 29 – Departing Georgetown @ 2:55pm, Arriving @ John F Kennedy Airport @ 8:40pm
  • September 2, 9, 16, 23 – Departing John F Kennedy Airport @ 8:30am, Arriving Georgetown @ 2:15pm,
  • September 2, 9, 16, 23  – Departing Georgetown @ 4:15pm, Arriving Miami @ 8:45pm
  • October 6, 13, 20, 27 – Departing Miami @ 08:30am, Arriving Georgetown @ 12:55pm
  • October 6, 13, 20, 27 – Departing Georgetown @ 2:55pm, Arriving John F Kennedy Airport @ 8:40pm
  • October 7, 14, 21, 28, – Departing John F Kennedy Airport @ 08:30am, Arriving Georgetown @ 2:15pm
  • October 7, 14, 21, 28, – Departing Georgetown @ 4:15pm, Arriving Miami @ 8:45pm

The following scheduled flights from Barbados to Georgetown have been announced by Transguyana Airways:

  • Every Wednesday and Friday for the month of September, single air flights, Departing Georgetown @ 11:15am, Arriving Barbados @ 13:00
  • Every Wednesday and Friday for the month of September, single air flights, Departing Barbados @ 15:00pm, Arriving Georgetown @ 16:45

Planning Your Trip

We would highly emphasize the need to be prepared for possible journey planning disruption during your trip to Guyana. A rapidly escalating COVID-19 case count means that quarantine measures and travel protocols are likely to change. Further emergency measures may be announced leading up to and during your stay.

Some advice for your stay:

Communication:

  • Ensure you bring a backup cellphone so your work colleagues and family can stay in touch with you on the local telecoms networks – GTT Digicel
  • Make a note of store locations where you can buy a local SIM card and cell phone prior to arrival. This will save time and allow you to plan a visit safely to the stores when needed. Where possible try to frequent the stores, which are located on either main roads, or within the larger shopping complexes for additional safety.
  • Guyana is subject to frequent power outages. While many of the main hotels have backup generators, we suggest you bring a portable charger for your cellphone.
  • If you are visiting on business, especially if you are in the process of registering/incorporating your business in Guyana, make sure you note the phone numbers of the related departments you need to engage with and visit the GoInvest & Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) websites where you can download associated forms and contact lists.

In-Country Travel

  • Make a conscious effort to only use taxis formally associated with your hotel, or as recommended by your employer or ground contact in Guyana.
  • Organize a pre-booked taxi from your hotel to both pick you up and return you to the airport of entry/departure, using a name board, with appropriate meet & greet protocols for your designated driver. If you arrive at the airport without a car reserved, be sure to ask an airport employee to guide you to one of their regular taxi providers.
  • For planning purposes, Cheddi Jagan International Airport is approximately an hour’s drive from central Georgetown. OGLE international airport is 15 mins from central Georgetown.
  • Keep informed of any local travel concerns by taking time to observe local media reports online. You will find that Facebook is often the medium of choice for up to date news sources in country.
  • Seatbelt use cannot be overemphasized. The car accident rate in Guyana remains the highest in the Caribbean.
  • Please visit our Driving in Guyana page for additional insights on vehicle transportation.

People

  • Take advantage of existing expatriate groups and business associations in Guyana. They are a terrific way to gather information, meet people on the ground, and keep informed of both social and business developments. Groups such as the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM)The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce can aid with both new relations and country insights. Other online social mediums such as REEL Guyana can help you plan weekends outside of Georgetown to explore the country.

Money

  • Ensure you have contingency plans for currency during your stay in Guyana. There are only two ATM providers in the country, and it is not unusual for visitors to experience either correspondent bank issues or cash limits which affect withdrawals. Be sure to use the ATMs during the daytime, and where possible try to stick to the ATMs at either Giftland Mall, Ogle Airport, Marriot Hotel, Pegasus Hotel, or those situated on Carmichael Street.
  • Only use the currency exchange services at the airport or your hotel. If you have to use a money transfer facility, take precautions when entering and leaving the vicinity. Request a driver or friend accompany you inside and avoid walking out of the premises with either your passport or wallet visible.
  • For those persons who are staying in private rented accommodations, you can also pay utility bills by GTT mobile money applications or with Western Union. Using these alternatives can reduce your outside exposure, save time, and limit the need to carry excess cash around with you.

Hotels and Restaurants

  • The Marriott Hotel, located in Kingston Georgetown, is open for reservation bookings. Presently the Hotel has implemented a full quarantine program dedicated to O&G Rotation workers. There are also floors that have been designated for customers not part of the O&G rotations. Customers are subject to temperature readings on entry to the hotel grounds, and reservations must comply with the quarantine and segregation procedures implemented under the existing quarantine program. The dining facilities at the Marriott Hotel are now reopened to the public. Visitors are required to wear a mask on entry to the hotel and have their temperature taken on entry to the hotel grounds.
  • The Pegasus Hotel situated in Kingston Georgetown is open for reservations. Their outdoor restaurant & bar remains open, with safe distancing measures and take away menus available.
  • The SleepInn Hotel on Church Street, Georgetown is open for reservations.
  • The Grand Coastal Hotel, located 20 minutes from Georgetown on the East Coast Public Road, is open for reservations.
  • The Hard Rock Cafe located at the Movietowne complex on the East Coast Demerara main road (an 8 minute drive from Central Georgetown) opened for outdoor dining in August, but on the August 22 announced that it would closing in light of the recent spike in COVID cases (more on that below).
  • The Kosmos Grill and Lounge, situated in the Movietowne complex, is open for both outdoor and take away dining from 11am – 9pm.
  • The Altitude Bar, located on Sandy Babb Street Georgetown and popular with expats, is open for both outdoor dining and take away, with safe distancing measures in place for diners.
  • Bistro, a popular local boutique restaurant situated next to King’s Hotel, Middle Street, Georgetown, remains closed for indoor dining but take away dining is available.

 

COVID-19 Status

The new PPP/C Administration in Guyana has made concerted efforts to revitalize the country’s fight against the spread of COVID-19, acknowledging that the focus on election events between March and August have stymied the Public Sector’s coordination of their response effort. There has been proactive engagement with the Private Sector to support cross departmental efforts addressing critical areas of concern.

Whilst both the Administration and the public are keen to restart the economy, a recent exponential rise in cases has forced authorities to scale back reopening plans to avoid complacency in COVID awareness for employers, employees, commuters, transport operators and businesses large and small.

As of September 2nd, Guyana has 1,373 confirmed cases of COVID-19. 687 cases have recovered, 512 persons are under home isolation quarantine, 67 persons are in institutional quarantine, and 13 persons are presently in the ICU at the central Georgetown Public Hospital.

The death toll for COVID-19 infections in Guyana is now 41, implying a 3% case fatality rate (CFR). Compared to COVID fatality figures for Latin American & The Caribbean as of August 27th as reported by  Statista, Guyana’s fatality rate is one of the highest in the region, which presently sees the CFR for Brazil 3.1%, Venezuela 0.8%, Suriname 1.67%, and Trinidad 1.24%.

An increase in testing since the inauguration of President Irfan Ali has seen a 38% case increase over the last month. In an effort to ramp up testing efficiency, Guyana is outsourcing a backlog of tests to be analyzed by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) located in Trinidad and Tobago. The Ministry of Health has reported that it hopes the engagement of CARPHA will clear the backlog of approximately 1500 test samples yet to be assayed by the Government’s National Reference Laboratory.

The Ministry of Health announced on August 31st that it was extending emergency COVID-19 measures until the end of September. This will see a resumption of the 6pm-6am curfew in addition to specified measures applied to Region 7, 8, & 9 aiming to address the unique social and environmental dynamic in these areas. A copy of the order can be viewed here.

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