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Peru, Panama Limit Movement By Gender In Bid To Slow The Coronavirus

A pair of men wearing masks — but neglecting social distancing guidelines — wait for public transportation in Peru's capital, Lima. The country recently urged men and women to leave their homes only on separate days, in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Rodrigo Abd
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Across the world, officials have been desperately adopting sweeping measures in a bid to keep people separated and the coronavirus at bay. But even among the wide range tried so far, one attempted solution in Peru and Panama has proven unusual: Officials in both countries have begun to limit their residents' movement by gender — with men only allowed to leave the home on some days and women on others.

"We have to get fewer people on the streets every day," Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra explained in comments to his Cabinet ministers Thursday.

So until at least April 12, the country's police and security forces are enforcing a new regulation: Men can leave their homes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with an ID, while women can do so on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. On Sundays, meanwhile, the stay-at-home order applies to everyone.

The ministry illustrated the restriction — which exempts people providing "essential services" — using a helpful infographic on Friday:

As of midday Friday, Peru had reported more than 1,400 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to data provided by Johns Hopkins University. At least 55 people have died of the disease it can develop into, COVID-19.

Vizcarra added that police officers have been instructed to respect trans and nonbinary residents' gender identities, and "not to have homophobic attitudes."

Meanwhile, in Panama, which has seen roughly the same number of confirmed cases and a slightly lower death toll, officials adopted the same measures — albeit with the days reversed — in an announcement of its own earlier this week.

"No country will be fully prepared to fight the virus, if the population does not assume responsibility for protecting the individual and collective health of its inhabitants," the country's health ministry warned Monday.

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Colin Dwyer covers breaking news for NPR. He reports on a wide array of subjects — from politics in Latin America and the Middle East, to the latest developments in sports and scientific research.