The first confirmed COVID-19 case was reported on March 14, 2020 and the government was proactive in implementing substantial preventive measures at an early stage. As of mid-June and early August 2020, preventive measures had been loosened to a large extent, lifting the stay-at-home order and closing of the airspace and allowing businesses to reopen. However, since mid-December, due to onset of a second wave, the authorities gradually reintroduced preventive measures. These measures include limiting the number of international flights to one per airline; requiring foreign visitors to present a negative PCR test and to quarantine for 5 days upon arrival in Equatorial Guinea; requiring local travelers between the continental and insular regions to present a negative PCR test or vaccination card; and restricting social gatherings, including through closure of all pubs/nightclubs and a curfew. Since February 15, 2021, in-person classes at all public and private schools in the main cities of Bata and Malabo had been suspended. In Malabo, classes resumed on May 20 and the curfew was relaxed to start at 10pm, given more benign recent Covid trends there. Since April, the government has scaled up its vaccination campaign, which now includes vaccination posts in all districts of the country. As of early June, some 148,000 people (approx. 10 percent of the country's population) have received at least one vaccine dose. After accidental explosions on March 7 in the country's largest city of Bata, which caused humanitarian tragedy and widespread destruction, a Covid lab there could again be operationalized. This has allowed for resumption of a massive testing campaigns also in Bata (in addition to the capital of Malabo).
- Ministry of Health and Social Welfare COVID-19 hotlines 1111 (Malabo) and 1112 (Bata)
- Is a curfew in place? Yes. The curfew will be from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. throughout the national territory, except in the city of Bata which is from 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. the next day.
- Are there restrictions on intercity or interstate travel? Yes
- Inter-district travel is restricted and PCR test required to transit districts
- For all internal flights, all passengers traveling to or from Bata will have to do the PCR test and will need an authorization from the technical committee to move from one region to the other.
- Are commercial flights operating? Yes
- Limited flights available weekly
- Is public transportation operating? Yes
- Every passenger must put on a facial mask. There is a limit of two passengers per taxi.
Fines for Non-Compliance
The Ministry of National Security published a communique on the compulsory use of facial masks and the fines for non-compliance. Please see information on the website of the government of Equatorial Guinea.
Key Policy Responses as of June 1, 2021
Fiscal policy has been facing two large shocks: the Coronavirus and lower oil prices. Regarding the latter, Equatorial Guinea has been facing a large fiscal revenue shock, given that hydrocarbons accounted for more than ¾ of fiscal revenues. To address this shock, the government has been postponing execution of non-priority capital expenditures, identifying savings to non-wage current expenditures and financing sources, urging public enterprises to cut personnel and costs as well as continuing implementation of plans to strengthen the tax administration.
To address the Coronavirus, the government approved various measures in 2020. The government's emergency health spending package (0.4 percent of GDP) deepened investments focused on the first response system, quarantine facilities for incoming travelers, and laboratory facilities/testing. Furthermore, other spending measures were also taken (0.2 percent of GDP), mainly to ensure continuity of education and a social assistance scheme (0.1 percent of GDP) had been initiated for the most vulnerable. On the revenue side, the authorities have provided in 2020 some targeted and temporary support to the private sector (estimated cost of 0.3 percent of GDP), including halving withholding tax rates and delaying tax payment deadlines for small and medium-sized firms, and reducing electricity bills. Since February 2021, the government has scaled up its vaccination campaign now that 320,000 donated vaccine doses have already been received and another batch of 500,000 has been procured. There are plans for the acquisition of more doses as the campaign aims to vaccinate at least 70 percent of the population.
MONETARY AND MACRO-FINANCIAL
On March 27, 2020, BEAC announced a set of monetary easing measures including a decrease of the policy rate by 25 bps to 3.25 percent, a decrease of the Marginal Lending Facility rate by 100 bps to 5 percent, a suspension of absorption operations, an increase of liquidity provision from FCFA 240 to 500 billion, and a widening of the range of private instruments accepted as collateral for refinancing operations. The BEAC also reduced haircuts applicable to private instruments accepted as collateral for refinancing operations until end-2020, which it extended by 6 months from January 1, 2021 at its December 21, 2020 MPC meeting. Further, at its July 22, 2020, extraordinary Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting the BEAC announced a new program of government securities purchases for the next 6 months, which it extended by another 6 months starting on March 1, 2021 at its December 21, 2020 MPC meeting. The purchase program is meant as a safety net, to ensure full cover of government securities issuances, while being consistent with BEAC Charter which prohibits direct monetary financing. The program is based on revised securities issuance plans for each country, consistent with the latest revised budget laws and the budget financing frameworks agreed under the IMF programs. The BEAC also decided to resume liquidity injections with longer maturity, of up to one year.
On March 25, 2020, the COBAC informed banks that they can use their capital conservation buffers of 2.5 percent to absorb pandemic-related losses but requested banks to adopt a restrictive policy with regard to dividend distribution. In July 2020, the COBAC prevented all banks from distributing any dividend for the years 2020 and 2021. The COBAC also put in place ad-hoc reporting to closely monitor financial stability developments following the COVID-19 crisis.
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