In these uncertain times it helps to have some clarity on an ever-evolving situation. We are following FCO guidance and local travel advice, and will keep this blog regularly updated on the impact of Covid-19 in South and Central America, and the measures being taken in each country.
Argentina has endured one of the world’s longest lockdowns, but green shoots are appearing. Several hotels and lodges are opening for domestic tourism at the end of November. International borders remain closed, but we expect them to reopen in time for Christmas.
Uruguay reacted quickly with a closure of all borders and strictly-upheld social distancing measures, resulting in lower infection numbers and a strong recovery. Offices and shops are open for business and schools have resumed in full.
International borders remain closed, other than for a few exceptions. Those granted special access will be required to complete an online health declaration and to show a negative PCR test on arrival. Quarantine is required for 7 days and a further Covid test on the 5th day in Uruguay. Face coverings will be required in restaurants, supermarkets and other busy areas.
Authorities have announced that Chile’s international borders will reopen on 23 November, 2020. Visitors will be asked to fill out a health questionnaire and produce proof of a valid PCR test, carried out no more than 72hrs prior to arrival. No quarantine will be necessary for incoming travellers to Chile.
Peru has been one of the hardest hit countries in Latin America, but the situation is now more stable. International flights resumed from 1 November, 2020 from Miami, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, New York, Houston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Toronto and most Latin American countries.
Long-haul flights from Europe are still not authorised, although there is no nationality restriction to enter the country should entry be via the US or another Latin American country.
Visitors to Peru require a negative PCR test taken within 72 of departure, as well as completion of an online health questionnaire. No quarantine is required. Peruvian Law requires masks to be worn in all public areas and face shields on all transport (flights, trains, buses, cars).
Due to have their national elections on 10th May, Bolivia have found themselves with an interim President for the foreseeable future as the elections have been postponed until further notice. Jeanine Añez had been in post for a matter of weeks when the virus hit and some have accused the right wing former senator of exploiting the virus for her electoral advantage. The lockdown began easing in June and in an attempt to keep spreading to a minimum, medical teams are being sent from house to house in the worst affected areas to bring anyone showing symptoms to isolation centres and hospitals.
As of August 25th, Ecuador has opened its borders and resumed international flights. That being said, their land borders with Peru and Colombia remain closed. Travelers are required to quarantine upon arrival for up to 14 days unless they can deliver negative COVID test results upon arrival. The cost of tests that are taken upon arrival, should a traveler not have taken one within the last 72 hours, are the responsibility of the traveler and not the Ecuadorian government. As of 4 May, the Government introduced a new phase of “social distancing” to loosen up restrictions progressively according to the situation in each canton. The system has three levels: red, amber, and green. The use of face masks is mandatory in each of Ecuador’s cantons and there are fines applies for those found in violation.
Colombia opens its borders on 21 September. Avianca have announced new flights from Miami, New York and Washington from 1 October. No quarantine is required upon entry, only proof of a negative PCR test 96 hours prior to travel. Masks will be worn in urban areas, and social distancing will be observed in social spaces.
Panama is preparing for a gradual re-opening, with retail, restaurants and domestic flights to resume activities on 28 September. International flights into Panama will resume from 12 October, along with hotels and tourism. Visitors’ temperatures will be taken on arrival to Panama and negative PCR tests will be required for entry.
While official and independent reports on the pandemic have differed somewhat, infection rates here have been far lower than in the US or in Europe. Nicaragua peaked in June, and has been on a downward curve since. The view is that things will be looking more normal by October. Summer (dry season) usually starts at the end of November, so an improved climate may help control the situation.
Borders and airports are open, though a Covid-19 test is required to enter the country. Charter flights are operating. Commercial flights from the US (American, United, Delta) say they plan to resume services in September.
There has been no official lockdown in Nicaragua, so movement is uninhibited. Most people (not all) live, operate and move about with standard Covid-19 precautions – face masks, hand-washing, social distancing.
Most of our favourite properties are operational, including Tribal Hotel, El Coyol, Morgan’s Rock, Totoco Ecolodge. Jicaro Island Lodge is re-opening in December.
Depending on when the UK and US relax their quarantine laws, we are hopeful that Nicaragua might be an option for Christmas and New Year.
Guatemala started to re-open on 18 September, including borders, hotels, airports, national parks and archaeological sites. Those travelling to Guatemala must show on arrival a PCR test certificate (valid within 72hrs), and have completed a health questionnaire.
Like many areas of the Caribbean, Belize has seen very few cases of Covid-19. They have re-opened the airport with commercial flights. Local properties and agencies have to meet certain strict standards in order to operate.
We have a special programme aboard a stunning private catamaran, island hopping down the barrier reef, with a couple of nights on a private island, and a private charter back to the international airport. We can easily incorporate extensions to explore the jungle, the caves and Maya ruins.
The best access to Belize is via the US or Panama.
As of 16th September, Mexico has had confirmed 676,000 cases, making it one of the hardest hit regions in Latin America. Numbers are now on the decline. Switzerland has removed its quarantine restrictions for its citizens returning from Mexico. There are currently no restrictions to enter Mexico, nor testing on arrival or negative Covid certificate required. Temperatures will be taken for new arrivals and accommodation details required for tracing purposes.
Demand is rising for Christmas and New Year – particularly in private villas. British Airways will resume flights to Cancun in October and AeroMexico is already flying to Mexico City.
Cuba’s isolation from the rest of the world has helped it weather the pandemic.
International borders reopened on 15 November, 2020. All visitors will be required to complete a health declaration and take a free PCR test on arrival. Each traveller will await results in their hotel for up to 24hrs before beginning their journey.
Clubs will not open but music will be available again, socially distanced and outdoors. It will take more than a pandemic to stop Cubans playing music! We expect restaurants to open with limited capacity. There will be mandatory use of masks in cities, except in hotels.
Tests are widely available and results are produced in a few hours.
It is a challenging time for everyone, and we endeavour to be supportive of the needs of our clients about to travel, and those considering booking a future trip. We will continue to provide updates via this blog so we can keep you informed as best we can, until Latin America is safely back on its feet. If you have any questions, please send a message to your travel designer or email@example.com, the team are on hand to help. Check our blog and social media for future travel inspiration – we could all do with something to look forward to!