What’s Happening in Panama with the Coronavirus?Hello all, if you are seeing this article, it is probably because you have expressed some interest in retiring in or moving to Panama. Right now, we are going through a crazy time, worldwide, but we know this will pass, and things will eventually get back to normal. We all have to do our parts though, Oscar and Megan, and myself have decided to basically self quarantine and stay at home. Governments around the world are making tough decisions, and since Panama is of interest to you, let’s talk about what is going on here, and how the Panamanian government is handling things.

First, Oscar and I were talking last night and since we are all just sitting around the house, especially in the evening, running out of shows to watch on Netflix, why not have a Q & A about Panama. When all this is over, Panama is still going to be here, and your vision of retiring in Panama will be back, so let’s take some time away from the news and social media, and get all your questions answered about moving to and retiring in Panama.

Thursday March 26th, 8:00 pm Eastern

Q & A with Oscar and Rod

What’s Happening in Panama with the Coronavirus?

OK, back to the coronavirus in Panama. In any country you will never get 100% agreement on how the government handles things. It is certainly no different here, then it is in your country. But below is a list, basically a timeline, of what has happened here since we discovered our first case.

The below actions all happened in a 10 day period after our first case of Coronavirus was verified in Panama.

Before our first case, already there were steps taken in regard to canal passage and passengers and crew not being able to disembark from ships and cruise lines.

In the last 10 days, this has happened:

  • MINSA (our department of health) starts with daily notices and national text messages with prevention announcements. Wash your hands! Stay away from groups!
  • All schools and universities close until April 7th
  • MINSA announces free data on their website to all cell phone users
  • MINSA announces a 169 telephone line to report symptoms so you can be directed to the appropriate place, keeping hospital emergency rooms clear for emergencies
  • Government orders banks to add an additional 1.5 billion into their liquidity (this is a big number for a country with the population of 4 million people. This ensures there will not be a problem, if people are withdrawing emergency cash)
  • People being asked to stay at home
  • No gatherings of over 50 people allowed, and closure of bars, casinos and nightclubs, dine in restaurants by 9pm
  • Country runs out of toilet paper (yes, ashamed, but us too)
  • Government closes all borders and airports – only citizens and residents can enter by air, land or sea, and they must self quarantine for 14 days
  • Many businesses have closed temporarily except food stores, gas stations, pharmacies, general retail stores and services and many restaurants offering takeout or delivery. Some lawyers’ offices, insurance and other businesses have adopted a work from home policy.

So today, Tuesday, March 17, we are basically in shutdown mode, people staying or working at home, free to go to the grocery store, or pharmacy if needed, crowds in these stores are limited to 50 people at a time, but the panic buying is over, just some replenishing now, and toilet paper is already back in stock in many stores.

What’s Happening in Panama with the Coronavirus?

Oscar finds restocked toilet paper in local stores

It is fairly obvious to me that Panama had a pandemic plan that they took out of the file cabinet, dusted it off and set it into motion, for all of the above to happen in 10 days. I think what they are trying to do here is “flatten the curve” to get on top of this thing in a way we need to shorten its grip on this country. I guess the next 10 days will tell us how these actions have worked, but I see a bright future for Panama in regards to controlling this virus, and getting the economy back up and running again.

That all being said, we have not been without our problems here. Government has made some mistakes, but they have acted quite quickly to reverse those decisions. We have had some unrest in the interior of the country, with groups from one province, blocking the highway to traffic from another province. But all in all, I am comfortable on how things are being handled here.

I do have concerns though, about my own country, Canada, and the USA who do not seem to be taking things too seriously, or reacting quite slowly like many countries in Europe did, and look where that got them. Now, I am a guy that does not like the government interfering with my personal liberties, but to protect a society as a whole, I have to accept some things. Maybe my movements may be restricted for a whole, maybe my temperature will be taken at a roadside checkpoint, maybe I will not be able to go out to one of my favorite establishments. But, do those things really matter, for a few weeks? What if your doctor told you that there was a 1% chance that you were going to die of a heart attack in the next 10 days, unless you took this pill. Would you take it? I think we need to err on the side of caution here, but do not panic, just react and stay at home. “Que da te en casa” is the current movement here #quedateencasa

What’s Happening in Panama with the Coronavirus?Back to Panama, with it’s vert strong growth and GDP over the last 10 years, expecting to hit 4% in 2020, low inflation, resilient people, it will bounce back stronger than many countries, and will continue to lead the world as the best place to retire in, as it has for the last 10 years. That’s the good news for you. Although your visit or tour to Panama may be delayed a few months, we will still be here to show you this incredible country.

Through this current time we are changing our move policy to allow you to change your tour to another date within 14 days of your tour. Also, what is important to know, your purchase of a tour is 100% guaranteed in case of a cancellation due to coronavirus, as for example, for our April 2nd tour, all tour participants had fully paid for the tour, but out of our control, we cannot do the tour, well actually the guests can’t even make it here, so each guest has the choice of what future tour they want to move to, at no additional costs. And all airlines are offering no charge changes now, so the out of pocket expense as far as the tour goes, is nothing. We, as a company, will take some losses as far as revenue losses, and many of our monthly expenses continue, but our guests are the most important thing to us.

So as you know, our tours will sell out, so sit back, relax, and plan for a tour this summer, fall or in 2021, and get your deposit in to reserve your spot by clicking here.

 

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