The Panama government, which has earned worldwide praise for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, announced that it is starting a phased reopening of the country’s economy.
The reopening, which has already started, will take place in six phases, according to coverage by Reuters. In judging the pace of each phase, the government will weigh “factors such as virus transmission, its strength, and economic impact,” said Commerce Minister Ramon Martínez.
Panama is in a position to start the slow reopening process because it has been able to keep the contagion rate low and the case mortality is far below the global average, Health Minister Rosario Turner said. The health system is “stable” and not in danger of collapsing under the weight of the pandemic, the minister told Reuters.
Government officials emphasized that the move to a “new normal” will be slow and gradual, with the decisions based on data and the continued suppression of the disease. But it’s still good news to see a plan in place and some elements of the economy restarting.
Starting May 13, the government guidelines allow the reopening of e-commerce, mechanical workshops and spare parts, and technical services such as plumbers, electricians, air maintenance conditioners, elevators, and pool maintenance. This is great news for our property management clients, and our team will be working with everyone in need of repairs in the days ahead.
The government guidelines also established criteria for companies to follow to keep employees and customers safe, including hygiene, hand-washing, use of masks, physical distancing, and cleaning protocols. Companies will need to establish special hours and take extra precautions to protect vulnerable groups, such as those over 60 and pregnant women, as well as monitor the temperature of employees and clients, according to the government standards.
There are still no definite plans to reopen other sectors which bring large groups of people together, such as education, hotels, restaurants, and concerts. But the plan for a phased reopening is certainly good news and a sign that the economy will gradually restart in the weeks ahead.
“Let’s not let our guard down and let’s comply with sanitary measures,” President Laurentino Cortizo said on Twitter, “This is everyone’s responsibility.”