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Following the news and updates around the COVID-19 pandemic, many airlines were forced to suspend or reduce their daily operations, and countries were forced to introduce travel restrictions. With the pandemic slowing down around the world, many countries have started to ease border restrictions and reopen for international tourists. Panama announced it will reopen its borders to international visitors on October 12, with some COVID-19 precautions of course.
Panama Reopening for International Visitors
Panama has officially released its tourism reopening plan, which was approved this Tuesday by the government. Both international flights and tourism activities are set to restart on October 12, 2020. The government suspended international flights back in March and after a six-month pause, they are finally restarting. The first step in Panama’s reopening plan is restarting domestic tourism on September 28, 2020, and then two weeks later on October 12, finally reopening borders to international tourists. As of October 1, 2020, Panama had 113,342 COVID-19 cases with steady daily numbers.
From the announcement:
After thorough research and preparation, Panama is excited to once again welcome international travelers starting October 12, 2020. The Ministry of Tourism has worked closely with government authorities including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Work, Labor and Economic Development among other government entities to implement biosecurity protocols that ensure the safety of both travelers and locals as the destination reopens for tourism and business travel.
Timeline of the reopening:
- September 28, 2020 - Domestic flights, Retail shops, restaurants and cafes, Tour guides, Travel agencies and travel operators, Aesthetic services, Beaches, and outdoor activities
- October 12, 2020 - The curfew will be lifted. International flights can resume, hotels, motels, rural hostels, lodging sites, and complementary services, tourist activities, non-essential transport (recreational and tourist), creative and cultural industries, music and art academies, libraries, swimming pools reopen
The government stated that this reopening is conditional and that they will only reopen if hospital beds are only at 20% occupancy, the respiratory care unit is only at 15% capacity, and the death rate is under 3%.
Requirements to Enter Panama
Passengers visiting Panama must present negative COVID-19 test results, taken within 48 hours of arrival. Those whose results are older than 48 hours will be required to take a rapid COVID-19 test at the airport, at a cost of around $30. Fortunately, there are no arrival restrictions based on country, which means anyone can enter Panama. Health insurance is not a requirement for entry but is highly recommended.
Before check-in, all incoming visitors will be required to complete an Electronic Affidavit (sworn statement) which will be available here starting October 10. In this statement visitors will be agreeing to:
- Comply with all sanitary control measures outlined by the Ministry of Health of Panama
- Provide localization information for residence while in Panama
- Confirm that you are healthy (no symptoms of any respiratory illness) and that you have not been exposed to COVID-19 within the last fourteen days