In a bid to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Dominican Republic is closing its land, sea and air borders for 15 days, the country’s President, Danilo Medina, announced.
The move takes effect at 6 AM on Thursday, March 19, according to a statement from President Medina.
The only exception to the sweeping measure will be for the departure of foreign citizens who want to return to their countries of origin, and the arrival of planes, cargo ships and fuel ships to “guarantee supplies to the population,” Medina said.
The country has also suspended events and meetings of all kinds for 15 days.
That includes national and international events, public shows, cultural, artistic and sporting events and the suspension of commercial activities.
As with similar plans around the world, the country will allow restaurants to operate, but only for pick-up and home delivery of food orders, Medina said.
Only businesses “dedicated to basic activities for the population,” like supermarkets, fuel stations and pharmacies, will remain open.
The country has also suspended flea markets and other gatherings.
“We are continuously monitoring the situation, both in the cases present in the country and in the rest of the world, in order to be able to make proportional decisions at all times, as the situation evolves,” Medina said in his statement.
It’s a significant move for a country that is by far the most popular tourist destination in the entire Caribbean region, but one that is precisely the sort of aggressive, containment step that the region’s countries need to implement to prevent the coronavirus from further incursion.
Several high-profile destinations have implemented similar measures, most notably Cayman and Guadeloupe and other destinations that have put in strong travel restrictions like Aruba and Curacao.