How LATAM Countries are Reopening
VIP Journeys celebrates the recent reopening of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, many of our Small Luxury Yachts are offering huge discounts as they resume navigation through the Enchanted Islands as well as our new normal in an ongoing pandemic.
The Latin America region, like it is Neighbors to the North, have been hit especially hard by COVID-19. Four of the top 10 worst outbreaks have taken place on the South America continent – in Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, and Peru – leading to drastic lockdowns and border closures. In Central America, the outbreaks were less severe.
Reopening is looking different throughout the region, some countries, have elaborate reopening plans that involve digital health passes, and are metering when travelers and tourism businesses can resume normal activities. Other countries have restarted commercial flights, but remaining restrictions like daily curfews that make it challenging to move freely once within the country.
Read below for how countries in Central America and South America are reopening – and which travel restrictions you need to be aware of.
Given how hard South America has been hit by the pandemic, reopening is, generally, taking longer – a handful of countries are reopening this month and next, while others have yet to announce a reopening plan.
Argentina remains closed. A September 20th decree extended the closure of land, port, and air borders, barring entry to all foreign nationals until October 11. There is no announced date when it will be lifted. The government has extended an internal quarantine order for regions throughout the country, including Buenos Aires, until October 11th.
Bolivia is open but complicated, it’s restarted international flights on September 1st. Travelers, including returning residents and nationals, will be exempt from quarantine if they present a negative COVID-19 PCR test that is dated within 7 days of the flight. Foreign travelers must have their test endorsed by the respective Bolivian Consulate before arriving. Anyone who arrives without a medical certificate and negative test result will be subject to quarantine. Contact your airline for information on the availability of flights. Although commercial international flights have resumed, there are very strict movement restrictions in place around Bolivia. A ‘dynamic quarantine’ remains in place until 31 October. There is a curfew between the hours of 12am (midnight) and 5am from Monday to Sunday. Face masks are required in public.
Brazil is open. Effective October 2, the Government of Brazil no longer requires foreign travelers to present proof of health insurance valid in Brazil in order to enter. While Brazil continues to permit the entry of foreign visitors by air for a short stay of up to 90 days, restrictions remain for the entry of foreign visitors by land (unless for transit) and sea through at least October 23. Brazil has had the world’s third-largest coronavirus outbreak (behind the U.S. and India), and the death rate remains at a high plateau. But parts of the country are reopening despite those numbers. Brazil reopened its bars and beaches in mid-September (it has also begun closing temporary hospitals opened at the start of the pandemic).
Chile also remains closed to travelers and is still under national curfew and struggling to stop the spread of the COVID virus. Borders reopening is postponed and the government hasn’t announced any news or updates for the opening plan. The main reason travel restrictions are so strict in Chile is because of the large number of positive COVID-19 cases. The state of emergency has been extended for an additional 90 days from 9/11/20.
Colombia Finally, Colombian borders are open for international travelers! Flights are already operating from the main destinations (Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta, Dallas, etc). Unfortunately, the rest of the world (Canada, Europe, Asia, etc) will have to wait a bit more to be able to visit. Colombia has been hit especially hard by the pandemic, with more than 800,000 recorded cases (the fifth highest number globally). Yet one month after beginning to ease its nationwide lockdown, with restaurants and hotels open, the country is beginning to welcome visitors back. International flights to four major destinations—Bogota, Cartagena, Medellin, and Cali—resumed on September 19. International visitors will simply need to show negative results from a PCR test taken within 96 hours of arrival and complete the CheckMig immigration form to enter.
Ecuador is open and welcoming visitors. Ecuador resumed commercial flights in June, and U.S. travelers are allowed to enter the country with proof of a negative COVID PCR test taken within 10 days of arrival. Those able to provide such results, and who are not demonstrating any symptoms, will be exempt from quarantining and able to move freely throughout the country—except for in the Galapagos Islands, where entry for which all travelers, Ecuadorian and otherwise, requires a negative PCR test taken within 96 hours of arrival (health insurance and a health declaration form are also required). Travelers entering Ecuador without negative test results will have the option to take a test at the airport, at their own expense, and will need to quarantine at a hotel, until negative results are received. Within the country, many hotels and restaurants have reopened, with restrictions. Many vendors are offing safer options and significant discounts on smaller 16 Pax yachts on both shared and chartered departures.
Panama is open for tourism. Panama’s finally reopening borders to international tourists and foreigners this week. Travelers will be required to present a negative COVID PCR test taken no more than 48 hours prior to their arrival. If a passenger’s COVID test was taken more than 48 hours before the moment of arrival, they will be mandated to take a rapid COVID test at the airport before customs and the traveler will have to cover the costs of said test.
Travel note: All theatres, museums, nightclubs, discos, galleries, casinos, concerts, parades and carnivals remain closed.
Peru delayed opening until October 31st. It was one of the first South American countries to enter lockdown on March 15th, the strictest measures taken in the region, Currently, some areas of the country remain under nightly curfew, though the country as a whole is starting to reopen. Commercial flights are said to resume between Peru and just a handful of countries, including the U.S. Government officials have said that negative COVID-19 test results will be required to enter the country, but specifics on when the test must be taken, and which type of test will be required, have not been released. The country is also set to enter phase four of its economic reopening plan when the quarantine lifts, during which time museums and restaurants (which have until now only offered takeout) will be able to reopen at partial capacity.
Uruguay is closed to tourism. Uruguay will not reopen until at least October 31st. They are planning the safest way to do reopen in part because the extremely high rates in neighboring nations. Uruguay has been the most successful nation in all of Latin America to combat the spread and outbreak of Covid-19 within its borders. Even on a world stage, Uruguay’s quick action, early testing, and support from its citizens led the country to have some of the lowest rates around the globe.
Come October, a majority of central American countries will be open to travelers, with the rest expected to follow by the end of the month.
Belize will open to travelers with limited flights on United, American, and Avianca entering the country at that time (land borders will remain closed for the time being). All travelers will be required to test negative for COVID-19 – with the option to present a PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival, or be tested at the airport for $50 – and may only stay at approved Gold Standard Hotels (list here). Travelers will not be able to move freely throughout the country during this initial phase and will be restricted to “safe corridors” that include their hotels and hotel-run excursions only. Social distancing and masks are required in public. To track the above, the government is using the Belize Health mobile app (mandatory for all visitors to download before entering the country), through which travelers are expected to upload hotel confirmations, test results, live locations, and more. Anyone testing positive on arrival will be required to quarantine for 14 days at a quarantine hotel, at the traveler’s expense.
Costa Rica is reopening to travelers from the U.S. in waves, by state of residency: On September 1, travelers from New York, New Jersey, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia were allowed to enter. On September 15, that expanded to include travelers from Colorado, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, Michigan, and Rhode Island. California and Ohio residents will be allowed to enter Costa Rica on October 1. There is no date set for the remaining 30 states. (A driver’s license or state ID card is required to show proof of residency, and no other document will be accepted; accompanying minors are not required to have these documents.)
All travelers must obtain a digital health pass to enter the country, which requires a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure from the U.S., and travel insurance that covers medical expenses and accommodation in case of quarantine. Anyone showing symptoms upon arrival may be subject to a second test, and those testing positive will need to quarantine in Costa Rica.
United, Spirit, and American Airlines began operating flights from the U.S. to Costa Rica on September 1 (with private planes allowed at that time), and Delta will begin offering service on October 1. Within the country, restaurants, shops, and beaches have reopened, though some have restricted hours and capacities. Face coverings are required indoors.
Guatemala resumed routine commercial flights on September 18, and all visitors are required to present a negative PCR test upon arrival. A daily curfew remains in place from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., however, and only select hotels and restaurants are open. El Salvador reopened its international airport on September 19, about a month after grocery stores and public transport reopened, and U.S. travelers can now enter with negative PCR test results.
While Nicaragua never officially imposed any travel restrictions, borders and airports have been effectively closed since airlines paused flight routes to the country. United, Spirit, and American will resume service the first week of October, and all passengers are required to show a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival. Panama also remains closed to travelers, with a suspension on international commercial flights until October 11.
If you have any questions about travel to the region, which hotels, yachts and tours are offering discounted packages feel free to contact our Trip Designers at (770)736-5909.
For more information the sources below are updated regularly. (Americas Society, Council of the Americas, The Coronavirus in Latin America by Carin Zissis). (Conde Nast Traveler, How Central and South American Countries Are Reopening, by Megan Spurrell)