COVID-19 Case Update in Bocas del Toro, Panama December 19, 2020 and New Holiday Restrictions

COVID-19 Epidemiological Report in Bocas del Toro and Panama

Featured image courtesy of Alfredo Jurado Photography.

In the islands of Bocas del Toro, as of December 19th, 2020, there are currently 14 active COVID-19 cases, an increase of 8 cases from our last report on December 11th. There have been 9 COVID-19 deaths in the community since March. There have been 3,094 accumulated cases in the entire province of Bocas del Toro.

Nationwide in Panama, as of December 18th, there are currently 32,363 active COVID-19 cases. There have been 170,170 recoveries, 3,504 deaths and a reported total of 206,310  accumulated cases. Of the active cases 3,015 are new; 30,269 are isolated at home and 695 in hotels. There are 1,490 patients hospitalized in the ward and 182 in ICU.

Between December 11 and December 15, Bocas del Toro province had 29 new cases. Courtesy of @covid19_mapas507

Tocumen International Airport in Panama City is receiving international flights. Anyone entering the country will not require a mandatory isolation as long as they can provide a certified negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of their arrival, or as long as they test negative upon landing at the Tocumen International Airport. You can read a complete report regarding COVID-19 tests and immigration entry in this article: “COVID-19 Requirements for Entering Panama.”

New COVID-19 Restrictions for Christmas and New Years

The curfew is now 7pm – 5am nationwide, effective as of December 18, 2020. Delivery services are available until 10pm, but no liquor may be sold after 7pm. Starting December 21, men and women will alternate shopping days in supermarkets and retail stores.

December 21, 23, 28 y 30 are the days that women can do their shopping and December 22, 24, 29 and 31 are men’s shopping days.

This gender alternating measure applies to shopping only and is not exactly like in the first stages of the quarantine earlier this year when men and women were only allowed out at certain times on alternating days. Though the Ministry of Health recommends “staying home if it is not necessary to leave,” both men and women are legally allowed to leave their residences during days that are not “total quarantine.” The measure is aimed at limiting crowds in stores during the holiday shopping season.

There will be days of total quarantine during Christmas and New Years, where no movement is permitted, unless you have a special permission for work (salvoconducto) or you are in transit. Tourists are allowed to fly and move about the country as needed to get to their destination. If you need to get to a flight or a new hotel reservation, you are advised to carry copies of any applicable flight tickets, itinerary and hotel reservations, that you can present to the authorities if you stopped while traveling during these lockdown days. The total quarantine begins on December 24, 2020 7pm and will last until 5am on December 28th. At 7pm on December 31, 2020, the country will again go into total quarantine until 5am on January 4th, 2021. Taxis that have their salvoconducto permission will be operating during the lockdown days and the same goes for restaurants operating with delivery service. Follow our Instagram account for updates on food delivery options for those dates.

Beaches are scheduled to close nationally from December 23rd to January 4th, 2021. Earlier in the year during the quarantine, Bocas del Toro beaches were approved by the local health department for activities such as surfing, kayaking, aerobic swimming, running, and all forms of solo physical exercise. Though it is not 100% confirmed yet, there is a chance the same permissions will be granted this beach closure. We will publish any updates as we hear them. There will also be “sanitary fence” health checkpoints set up in various parts of Panama City and the metropolitan area, between December 23 and January 4. This should not affect Bocas del Toro, as far as we know.

Confirmed new cases per week in the Bocas del Toro province September – December (calander week 51), courtesy of @bocasvivesaludable on Instagram.

REMEMBER: Please follow the guidelines of the Ministry of Health: stay home if you don’t need to go out, keep two meters of distance while in public, wear a face mask while you are around others (especially indoors and poorly ventilated areas), avoid touching your face, wash your hands frequently, disinfect what you take home and what you use in public. 

***Above all, practice habits for a strong immune system. Eat a healthy, balanced and nutritious diet. Get proper sleep. Exercise regularly. Spend time in the sun and get fresh air. Fear and stress are also considered to lower your immune system defenses, so be aware of the virus but please do not live in fear. The strength and resilience of the community shall overcome the virus.***


The Bocas Breeze is a digital and print newspaper proudly serving the Bocas del Toro community since 2004; reporting news, advertising local businesses and promoting tourism in Bocas del Toro, Panama.


  1. Michael Evnin Reply

    Thank you so much for your full and complete updates. Better than any other English language source that I know. My Spanish is adequate but not for the details I need and that you provide.

    Stay Safe and Healthy, Michael Evnin

  2. Taylor Reply

    MINSA called on the entire population, especially those who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate blood.  Contact a local hospital or blood donation cent er  if you’re interested and willing to participate. Schools and universities are closed for in-person classes nation-wide until further notice.  F estivals, and all gatherings larger than 50 people, as well as public spaces and venues, have been banned.  Visit the local government COVID-19 website for updated information.

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