Travel to Central and South America: A Reopening Timeline, Country by Country

Crowds Line Up at Caixa Economica Federal to Receive the Second Installment of the Urgent Government Benefit Due to the Coronavirus (COVID - 19) Pandemic
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As of May 18, there have been more than 2 million cases and 121,000 deaths due to COVID-19 across the Americas. The virus has surged in many parts of South and Central America, where it has spread rapidly among indigenous communities with minimal access to health care, as well as in densely populated cities, like Manaus in Brazil. Understandably, many borders are closed, and most commercial flights to the region have been halted. Read on for a country-by-country listing of border status, quarantine restrictions, and more information travel throughout Central and South America.

Argentina

On April 27, Argentina banned all ticket sales for commercial flights to, from, and within the country through Sept. 1, 2020, one of the harshest measures taken in the fight against coronavirus. The country’s borders are closed, except for Argentine nationals and residents, through May 24, 2020.

Belize

Belize implemented a state of emergency on April 1, 2020, including a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily. The country’s Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport is closed, and effective April 5, borders are closed to Belizean nationals looking to reenter the country, unless they were traveling for emergency purposes or medical care. No cruise lines are operating in the country at this time. These restrictions will be in place through at least June 30, 2020.

Bolivia

Bolivia’s quarantine and travel restrictions vary from city to city, but a nationwide quarantine is also in place. Flights to and from the country are suspended, and traveling between cities within Bolivia is also prohibited. International land borders are closed as well.

Brazil

On April 28, Brazil stated that, for 30 days, foreigners would be barred from entering the country. While Brazil’s numbers continue to climb, the country still has nine U.S.-bound commercial flights departing Brazil each week, including daily service on United Airlines from Sao Paulo to Houston. The U.S. has reportedly considered implementing restrictions on travelers from Brazil but has not acted yet.

Chile

As of May 20, LATAM is operating international commercial flights from Miami to Santiago as well as a variety of domestic flights. However, according to the U.S. Embassy in Chile, the country’s borders have been closed to everyone except Chilean citizens and permanent residents since March 18. Chile has a nationwide mandatory curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., and people in confined areas, including Gran Santiago and Arica, need permits to leave their residences.

Colombia

International flights to Colombia (excluding cargo and humanitarian) are grounded through the end of May as the country’s lockdown is extended through May 25 . Domestic flights are available for health, humanitarian, and governing purposes only. Ground transportation between cities is also heavily restricted.

Costa Rica

Entry to Costa Rica is restricted to citizens, children of citizens, residents who left the country before March 24, and foreign diplomats until June 15. Any legal residents of Costa Rica who left the country on or after March 24 lose their status and will be unable to return until travel restrictions are eased. Tourists who entered the country after Dec. 17, 2019, will be allowed to stay, and drive, until July 17, 2020. New arrivals will have to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Ecuador Continues On Alert For Coronavirus
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Ecuador

International arrivals and domestic flights have been prohibited since March 17. Travel within the country is limited, and there is a nationwide curfew from 2 p.m. to 5 a.m. As of May 19, three flights can return U.S. citizens home, and the U.S. Embassy has arranged bus transportation for passengers with confirmed reservations.

Guatemala

Most airport operations and flights have been suspended, and the borders are closed to most foreigners (with exceptions for those arriving for health and security matters). The country was closed until May 18, at which point it began reopening in stages, including regulations on curfews and select days for businesses to open. All tourist attractions and outdoor destinations such as beaches and lakes remain closed.

Honduras

The government closed all borders on March 15, and there hasn’t been an announcement of when they could reopen. The existing curfew within the country, which regulates specific opening hours for businesses, was extended to May 24. 

Nicaragua

Nicaragua has no travel restrictions of quarantine policies in place. However, travel to the country is not recommended due to the widespread criticism about its worrisome response to the novel coronavirus. It has denied that the pandemic has affected the country greatly despite the increasing number of noticeably quick and secretive burials of recently deceased people; its official tallies show only eight deaths of the coronavirus, but an increase in a suspiciously widespread “pneumonia”; it has limited nationwide testing to 50 tests daily; and it has denied access to hospitals of officials from the Pan-American Health Organization. 

Panama

International flights to and from the country were suspended last week until June 22, and the U.S. embassy there suggests that U.S. citizens prepare to stay there indefinitely, and Panama citizens cannot return at this time. There is a nationwide quarantine with hefty fines for breaking the rules. Most nonessential businesses remain closed, but a plan to reopen the economy began on May 13, and as of May 18, exercising within one kilometer of your home is now allowed within a two-hour window.

Peru

Peru is currently in a national state of emergency and has placed strict quarantine policies through May 24. International and domestic travel has been restricted since March 16, with a limited number of one-way flights to the U.S. Curfew is all day Sunday and from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. Monday through Saturday (note: curfew is from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. in some parts of the country). Everyone is required to wear a face mask in public. The government is planning to initiate the first stage of economic recovery this month.

Uruguay

Uruguay has closed its borders indefinitely, allowing a limited number of one-way flights to Sao Paulo (where travelers can connect to flights heading to the U.S.). Residents are prohibited from leaving for tourism purposes. People ages 65 and up are required to self-quarantine; everyone else is encouraged to shelter in place.

Venezuela

Venezuela has been in lockdown since Mid-March, and people are prohibited from moving between states. As of April 12, international flights have been suspended, and Colombia and Brazil’s land borders have been shut down. Nighttime curfews have been put in place in some municipalities.

Article Sources
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  1. Pan-American Health Organization. “Weekly Press Briefing on the COVID-19 Situation in the Americas.” May 19, 2020

  2. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade, and Worship - Argentine. “COVID-19 / Measures Adopted by the Argentine Government for Those Travelling to Argentina.” May 11, 2020

  3. Belize Tourism Board. “COVID-19 Update for Travellers.” May 5, 2020

  4. ICAO. “Global COVID-19 Airport Status.” May 20, 2020

  5. U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Brazil. "Health Alert: Extension of Air Border Closure and Commercial Flight Update." April 29, 2020

  6. U.S. Embassy in Chile. “COVID-19 Information.” May 19, 2020

  7. U.S. Embassy in Colombia. “Health Alert: COVID-19 Update and Quarantine Restrictions.” May 11, 2020

  8. U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica. “COVID-19 Information.” May 19, 2020

  9. U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Ecuador. “COVID-19 Information.” May 18, 2020

  10. U.S. Embassy in Guatemala. “Update For U.S. Citizens: Changes to COVID-19 Restrictions by the Government of Guatemala.” May 14, 2020

  11. U.S. Embassy in Honduras. “COVID-19 Information.” May 10, 2020

  12. U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua. “COVID-19 Information.” May 19, 2020

  13. U.S. Embassy in Panama. “COVID-19 Panama Information.” 

  14. U.S. Embassy in Peru. “COVID-19 Information.” May 19, 2020

  15. U.S. Embassy in Uruguay. “COV-19 Information. May 19, 2020

  16. U.S. Virtual Embassy, Venezuela. “COVID-19 Information.” March 25, 2020

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