July 27, 2020 / 2:49 PM / 13 days ago

Guatemala begins economic reopening, though coronavirus still on rise

Paramedics check persons with symptoms of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as they arrive for treatment to the emergency area of the Guatemalan Institute of Social Security (IGSS), in Guatemala City, Guatemala July 21, 2020. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - Guatemala began reopening its economy on Monday, easing restrictions imposed four months ago to curb the coronavirus, although cases are still on the rise in much of the country.

The Central American nation closed its borders and implemented a curfew in March, in addition to suspending public transportation and economic activity in sectors not considered to be essential.

In an address announcing the reopening on Sunday night, President Alejandro Giammattei urged Guatemalans to stay vigilant.

“Dear friends, we need everyone’s commitment. The decisions have not been easy,” Giammattei said.

Although the country’s borders remain closed, various industries can resume operations, public transportation will gradually begin running and shopping centers and restaurants can reopen starting on Monday. The curfew will remain in place at night.

Despite the relaxation of health measures, nearly half of Guatemalan municipalities remain on “red alert,” meaning cases have yet to level off.

On Sunday, Guatemala reported 45,000 total cases of COVID-19 and 1,700 deaths.

Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Writing by Julia Love; Editing by Dan Grebler

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