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 August 24, there have been more than 12.5 million cases and 450,000 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 initially banned all ticket sales for commercial flights to, from, and within the country until September 1, but that date has been indefinitely extended. The nationwide quarantine has been extended through September 20, 2020. Unless they are permanent residents in Argentina, no foreigner, including U.S. citizens are presently allowed to enter Argentina.

Belize

Belize implemented a state of emergency in April but has since reopened its airport and opened the borders to Belizean nationals, business travelers, homeowners, and foreign tourists from all countries, with different entry requirements for each category. If they can't get tested before their flight, all travelers will be tested on arrival and will be forced to quarantine at an approved hotel for 14 days if they test positive. Tourists will only have the option of staying at an approved Gold Standard hotel, where they must stay for the duration of their trip, and will not be allowed to rent a car.

Bolivia

Bolivia’s quarantine and travel restrictions vary from city to city, and while air borders have reopened to all foreign nationals, the country's land and water borders remain closed. There's no requirement to quarantine, but all travelers will need to show a negative test before their flight. A curfew may be in place depending on which city or municipality you visit.

Brazil

With nearly four million confirmed cases as of September 1, Brazil is the hardest-hit country in Latin America and has the second-highest number of cases in the world after the United States. The country faces many challenges with the virus, especially in remote regions of the Amazon where its indigenous population is particularly at risk.

While Brazil has restricted its land and water borders until September 24, foreigners, including U.S. citizens, are allowed to enter by air as of August 26. Travelers entering Brazil will need to present proof of health insurance that is valid for their entire trip with a minimum coverage plan of $5,600. Travelers will not be required to show a negative test or to quarantine.

Chile

As of September 1, only Chilean citizens are allowed to enter Chile and there is a nationwide curfew every night from 11 pm. to 5 a.m. The government has extended the state of emergency until September 14. 

Colombia

On August 26, the Colombian government extended the lockdown until October 1, keeping the water and land borders closed. It is still unknown when international flights will resume and U.S. citizens are not permitted to enter for tourism purposes. Travelers visiting Colombia for humanitarian reasons will be allowed to enter, but will also be expected to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica reopened tourism for travelers from low-risk countries beginning on August 1, which did not initially include the U.S. However, Costa Rica announced in August that it will allow residents of low-risk states to enter for tourism purposes. Beginning September 1, Costa Rica is opening up to American tourists who are residents of the following states: New York, New Jersey, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Colombia. On September 15, residents of Colorado, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania will be added to the list of approved states.

American tourists may enter Costa Rica, so long as they are able to show a driver's license or state ID card from one of the authorized states. You will need to present a negative test taken within 72 hours of your flight, provide proof of health insurance, and complete an epidemiological form. Unless you are displaying symptoms upon arrival, or hold Costa Rican residency, you will not be required to quarantine.

Ecuador Continues On Alert For Coronavirus
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Ecuador

Foreigners are allowed to enter Ecuador as of June with the resumption of commercial flights. However, travelers will need to provide a negative test taken within 10 days of entering Ecuador. Quarantines will not be enforced unless the travelers are showing symptoms. If you can't provide a test before your trip, you'll be required to take one at your own expense upon arrival and quarantine until the result comes back.

The Ecuadorian government also has stricter regulations in place for anyone wishing to visit the Galapagos Islands. Not only should travelers be tested before entering Ecuador, but they will also need to take another test once they arrive and quarantine for at least 48 hours or until the test results come back negative. All foreigners and citizens of Ecuador are required to show a negative test taken within 96 hours of arriving in the Galapagos, but there is no requirement to quarantine once you get there.

Guatemala

Non-Guatemalan travelers are not allowed to enter Guatemala but commercial flights are scheduled to resume on September 18. Strict measures are still in place to prevent the spread of the virus including a daily curfew from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. 

Honduras

The government closed all borders on March 15, and while international flights resumed on August 17, the country is under strict lockdown and curfew with citizens required to stay home until September 6. U.S. citizens are allowed to enter, but they will need to show a negative test and quarantine for 14 days. 

Nicaragua

The Nicaraguan government does not have any travel restrictions in place, however many airlines that service the country have suspended their service with dates set to resume in September and October. Officially, U.S. citizens are allowed to enter Nicaragua if they can show a negative test.

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 133 deaths of the coronavirus, but an increase in a suspiciously widespread “pneumonia”, in April, 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 are suspended until September 21 and only Panamanian citizens and residents are allowed to enter the country. Strict lockdown measures including a mask mandate and a curfew are in place with violators risking fines and possibly detention. 

Peru

At the beginning of September, Peru had the fifth-highest number of cases worldwide and as of August 28, the country has expanded quarantine measures to include a nightly curfew and to ban all social gatherings including those held within the home. Peruvian airports opened for domestic travel on July 15, but are still closed internationally with the exception of repatriation flights back to the U.S.

Uruguay

Uruguay's borders are officially closed and commercial flights have been suspended, however exceptions are being made for some travelers in the case of family reunification or humanitarian efforts. In this case, travelers will still need to provide a negative test taken within 72 hours of their flight and show proof of medical insurance to cover COVID-19. Travelers staying for longer than seven days will also be required to self-quarantine for 14 days or until they can produce a second negative test. 

Venezuela

Venezuela's ban on commercial flights has been extended until September 12. U.S. citizens and permanent residents currently residing in Venezuela have been advised to prepare for an indefinite stay, as there is no information yet about repatriation flights for Americans. Reports say that many Venezuelan patients and doctors are avoiding being tested for the virus, due to the inhumane conditions of the government's mandatory quarantine facilities.

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. Simply Flying. "Argentina Won't Reopen Flights on September 1st As Expected." August 11, 2020.

  3. U.S. Embassy in Argentina. "COVID-19 Information." September 1, 2020.

  4. Belize Tourism Board. “COVID-19 Update for Travellers.” August 6, 2020.

  5. U.S. Embassy in Bolivia. "COVID-19 Information." September 1, 2020.

  6. The Guardian. "Brazil Losing a Generation of Indigenous Leaders to Covid-19." June 21, 2020.

  7. U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Brazil. "U.S. and Brazil Travel Restrictions." July 23, 2020.

  8. U.S. Embassy in Chile. “COVID-19 Information.” September 1, 2020.

  9. U.S. Embassy in Colombia. "COVID-19 Information." September 1, 2020.

  10. U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica. "COVID-19 Information." September 1, 2020.

  11. U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Ecuador. "COVID-19 and Travel Information." September 1, 2020.

  12. Reuters. "Guatemala's international airport to resume flights on Sept. 18." September 1, 2020.

  13. U.S. Embassy in Guatemala. "Ongoing Government Restrictions in Response to COVID-19." August 17, 2020.

  14. U.S. Embassy in Honduras. “COVID-19 Information.” September 1, 2020.

  15. U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua. “COVID-19 Information.” September 1, 2020

  16. U.S. Embassy in Panama. "COVID-19 Panama Information." September 1, 2020.

  17. U.S. Embassy in Peru. "COVID-19 Information." August 31, 2020.

  18. U.S. Embassy in Uruguay. “COV-19 Information. August 31, 2020

  19. U.S. Virtual Embassy, Venezuela. "August 28 Update for U.S. Citizens and LPRs in Venezuela." August 28, 2020.

  20. Bloomberg. "Covid Victims Are Forced Into Filthy Warehouses in Venezuela." August 24, 2020.

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