Coronavirus in Latin America: What You Need to Know

08 Sep
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Coronavirus in Latin America: What You Need to Know

Tuesday September 08, 2020 - Posted by SSLA Team

Coronavirus in Latin America: What You Need to Know — What the current situation in Latin America regarding the  Corona pandemic? What will travel in Latin America will be like in the (near) future? What is going on with the Spanish Schools in Latin America, are they open again? Can you already make new plans to travel and study Spanish abroad?  Guess what: yes, you can! The situation in every country is a bit different, so inform yourself well before you make plans! Read more insights in our post: Coronavirus in Latin America What You Need to Know.

COVID-19 in Latin America: Update October 22, 2020

Update situation per country 

ARGENTINA  – not open yet

Only Argentinian residents are permitted to enter the country. Non-essential travel is prohibited. Also, the borders are closed for foreigners until at least October 25th, 2020. The Transport Ministry is studying on the possible return of commercial flights on Saturdays and Sundays after that date. For now, only essential travellers are allowed to board a domestic flight. On October 15th, the Argentinian government has launched an online passenger locator form which is supposed to help with preparations for reopening next year. The form will be available in Spanish and English. There are also rumours that tourism will possibly return in beginning of 2021, around February or March. Although this news is not yet officially confirmed by the Argentinian government yet.

The Spanish school in Bariloche is sharing some beautiful pictures of the city and the mountains in winter time (it is indeed winter now in South America) with the comment that this year only the residents of the city will enjoy the snow and beautiful mountains.

The mountains in winter time

BOLIVIA – officially open for tourism

Since begin September it is possible to enter and leave Bolivia by air on commercial flights. Although tourism is possible, it is still in the starting process. Passengers boarding flights to Bolivia must  show a negative test result for COVID-19, certified by a Bolivian consulate.  All passengers will have their temperature taken prior to entering airports and the pre-boarding areas. We recommend you to check the specific requirements with your airline before travelling to Bolivia. While in Bolivia you will have to respect the quarantine measures and local restrictions such as the weekend curfew nationwide. You can check the latest measures on the official website of the Bolivian government.

So that implies that Spanish classes in La Paz are now possible!

CHILE – not open yet for tourism

Until at least the 29th of October travellers are not allowed in Chile, only Chilean citizens and residents of Chile are allowed entry into the country. Health screening procedures are in place at airports and other ports of entry. All people entering the country are subject to mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Chile. Travellers who have a negative PCR test result for COVID-19 are not subject to quarantine, provided that the test was taken within 72 hours prior to arrival in Chile. There are no known dates for the restart of tourism. A National State of Catastrophe is in place until at least December 31 of 2020.

COLOMBIA – open!

Some international flights have resumed to Colombia. Passengers need a medical certificate with a negative COVID-19 test result taken at most 96 hours prior to departure. Also an entry form must be completed online before departure. Travellers also have the obligation to report follow-up health checks via the mobile app ‘CoronApp’. The use of masks is mandatory when using public transport and in areas with a high concentration of people. Some regions require masks to be worn at all times when outside. A state of health emergency will remain in place until 30 November in Colombia.

So you are welcome to study Spanish in Colombia. Meanwhile our teachers are reliving those precious moments when there were students in Colombia by organizing some online meetings to have fun and practise Spanish together.

COSTA RICA – open for tourism

At the end of August, 23 out of 82 cantons, including the capital, were under orange alert due to rising cases while the rest of the country remained under yellow alert. The COVID-19 cases confirmed in Costa Rica stayed very low compared to other Latin American countries.

COSTA RICA – open for tourism

Since August 2020, Costa Rica is open for citizens and residents of Canada, the EU, Schengen Zone, UK, Mexico, Jamaica and certain parts of the USA to enter the country as long as their flight originates from one of these permitted countries. Requirements include a negative PCR COVID-19 certificate obtained 72 hours prior to departure, purchase of an insurance product with specific cover and online completion of an epidemiological information form. As of November 1, residents of all the U.S. states will also be permitted entry.

Meanwhile, this toucan is waiting in front of the school and residence for the new students to arrive in Turrialba!

CUBA – open for tourism

Cuba has recently developed its own vaccine against the coronavirus and is doing its clinical trials. It will be called Sovereign 01 and could be available in early 2021.

Cuba already reopened its borders and international airports for tourism on July 1, starting with certain tourist cities and gradually adding more. Although meanwhile some areas such as Cayo Coco have been closed temporarily due to a surge in cases. At the moment, having a travel health insurance is required for visiting Cuba. Tourists arriving into Cuba will be tested at the airport. After the test is taken, the traveller will quarantine at their hotel for a maximum for 24 hours for test results. If the test is negative, the traveller can enjoy their vacation. Cuba has launched their ‘hygienic and safe’ program to help keep tourists safe during their vacation. All hotels and tourist facilities, including transportation, must apply and be approved for health certification.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC  – open for tourism

The Dominican Republic has reopened for tourists, also international airports have restarted all operations. Commercial options are departing to the US, Spain, France and some other countries, although these are still limited. The Dominican authorities will administer a rapid diagnostic test to a percentage of randomly selected passengers on arrival. You should comply with additional screening and other social distancing measures put in place by the authorities and follow instructions from the airport authorities. For the latest instructions, check the official website about Covid in Dominica Republic. The Spanish schools have taken protective and hygienic measures based on the health guidelines of the WHO and the Dominican Department of Public Health. The goal is to guarantee for all people a safe and pleasant learning atmosphere at the schools.

The school in Santo Domingo is open for in-person classes with safety protocols and social distancing in place.

ECUADOR – open for tourism

Commercial flights to Ecuador have resumed at a limited capacity from June 1. Passengers must present a negative PCR test result for COVID-19 that has been taken no more than 10 days prior to departure. Travellers will also be required to sign a declaration form with their itinerary and local contact details. From 1 July, tourist activities are also allowed in the Galapagos Islands. You can also check the official Coronavirus website by the government for the latest updates.

Montañita is waiting for international students to arrive and enjoy the sun, beach and Spanish lessons in Montañita.

GUATEMALA  – open for tourism

Guatemala has reopened its airport for tourists on September 18. Travellers must respect the social distancing rules and wear a mask at all times while at the airport. 24 hours before your arrival, passengers are required to register via the Guatemalan Health Pass form and bring the printed form with them. Passengers are also required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test, dated no more than 72 hours before the date of your arrival in Guatemala.

MEXICO – open for tourism

All citizens of all countries are allowed to travel to Mexico. No COVID test, quarantine, or insurance is required. Mexico is not opening its country all at once. Instead, it’s opening state by state. Mexico works with the Traffic Light strategy, states that have already made it to yellow and green are the states where tourists can travel freely. A state that is already open since June is the state of Quintana Roo, which is the home of popular tourist places like Cancun, Playa del Carmen, etc. Also the tourist destinations of Oaxaca and Puerto Vallarta are open for tourism.

The schools in Mexico are all prepared to continue with the Spanish classes

The last announcement for extension was on August 14 through September 21. Although the country has not closed its airports during the pandemic, it has registered a collapse in both operations and passengers transported. In the month of July alone, a decrease of 74.6% was registered compared to the same month of 2019, according to the Mexican Institute of Transportation. Mexico was one of the few that did not close borders or impose restrictions on travellers, so that in principle, international tourists could visit the country without migration problems.

The schools in Mexico are all prepared to continue with the Spanish classes. A few days ago, this student received his certificate.

PANAMA   –  open  for tourism

Panama is open for international tourism since October 12. From that date on, international commercial flights are welcome again in Panama. Hotels and other accommodation, tourism activities, non-essential transportation and swimming pools are also operational again in Panama. Tours and restaurants are still operating with limited capacity. Passengers are required to present a negative COVID PCR test taken no more than 48 hours prior to their arrival time in Panama. Before checking in for a flight, passengers must also complete an electronic affidavit, agreeing to comply with the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 measures in Panama.

The empty Bocas de Toro in Panama is waiting to receive tourists again. Also the Spanish school is hoping the same!

Bocas de Toro in Panama is waiting to receive tourists again

PERU – will be open soon for tourism!

Domestic flights in Peru began on July 15. From 5 October, international flights are permitted to operate in Peru, but the first travellers permitted entry will be those for business or professional reasons. All passengers are required to bring a proof of a negative PCR test, performed no longer than 48 hours before arrival. Also other biosecurity protocols upon arriving in Peru apply. Peru is one of the first countries to obtain the Safe Travel’s seal from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTCC). That is the reason why from the 1st of November, many touristic attractions, such as Machu Picchu, will reopen for tourism

The city of Cusco – a travelers hub in Latin America –  hasn’t been so empty for decades. School staff are badly missing all the tourists and students enjoying this historical Inca city. The school hopes that soon we will be able to welcome you all again to learn Spanish and enjoy Cusco!

In the meanwhile, the school runs a popular Online Spanish Course!

URUGUAY –  not open

The government of Uruguay has just announced their decision to keep international borders closed until at least October 31, in part of because the extremely high rates in neighbouring nations. This comes as a surprise as before Uruguay has announced it would reopen its borders for European Union nationals. Some international flights are operating. All non-resident foreigners entering Uruguay must have proof of health insurance that covers suspected or actual coronavirus. Upon arrival, passengers will need to either present a negative coronavirus test taken maximum 72 hours before travelling. Upon arrival passengers are legally obliged to go to a declared address to carry out a 7-day mandatory quarantine.

COVID-19 in Latin America

Coronavirus Pandemic: the situation before July 31, 2020

Meanwhile, Brazil has confirmed more than 2.4 million cases, which is the second-highest in the world after the USA. Also Mexico, Chile and Peru are battling major outbreaks. Also these countries belong in the top 10 countries with most confirmed cases.

Brazil and Mexico reported the highest number of deaths in Latin America, more than 88 000 and 44 000 respectively. Peru confirmed more than 18 000 deaths and Chile more than 9000 deaths. Researchers say both cases and deaths may be under-reported in Brazil, Mexico and Peru. Very few testing has been done in Latin America.

Luckily, the numbers of deaths in Ecuador are dropping, although Ecuador recorded one of the earliest and worst outbreaks in Latin America at the beginning of the pandemic.

The head of the Pan American Health Organization, Dr Carissa Etienne, warned that the coronavirus is spreading exponentially in many areas of Latin America. He announces that there is no doubt that Latin America is now the epicentre of the pandemic. There are concerns that healthcare systems in Latin American countries will be overwhelmed, as has already been the case in Ecuador.

Prospects: When can we Travel Again to Latin America?

Several governments in the region are taking new measures to stop the spread of coronavirus. Chile tightened lockdowns across the country. Argentina and Uruguay seem to be the two countries now able to manage the spread of coronavirus, while Mexico and Brazil still choose to continue less severe lockdown measures than other Latin American countries. Peru had one of the first and strictest lockdowns in the region, cases and deaths keep on rising in this country.

Update situation per country uptil July 2020

ARGENTINA reported more than 170 000 cases and 3 200 deaths on July 28. The national quarantine is extended until August 2. On July 18,  president Alberto Fernández announced a plan to progressively relax the social distancing measures, for example permitting outdoor exercise. Although strict health guidelines still have to be followed. There is a ban on international and national commercial flights until September 1.

BOLIVIA reported more than 72 000 cases and 2700 deaths on July 28.  president Jeanine Añez tested positive on COVID-19 herself. Almost half of Añez cabinet members tested positive later in July. After a gradual reopening in June, the capital La Paz returned to strict restrictions later that month at coronavirus infections keep raising.

CHILE reported more than 350 000 cases and 9200 deaths on July 28. The government announced a reopening plan on July 20. On July 29, most of the country is in the preparation phase, while some districts in the south are already in the initial opening phase. Santiago and surroundings will stay in quarantine until July 31 to after also start the reopening plan.

COLOMBIA reported more than 267 000 cases and 9000 deaths on July 28. Sadly, on the same date July 28, Colombia marked its highest number of new cases in a 24-hour period. The government announced that they want to reinstating the national quarantine from August 1 until the end of August. Almost all districts of Bogota were already back in strict quarantine since July 23. The country’s borders remain closed and international flights will not resume before August 31.

COSTA RICA reported a bit more than 16 000 cases and 125 deaths on July 28. The third phase of reopening went into effect on June 27, but vehicular restriction and other measures will be enforced. Costa Rica has been very successful in slow contagion but from June the capital and some other provinces sadly have shifted from yellow to orange alert due to rising cases.

Costa Rica will reopen its borders to EU members, Canada and the UK starting August 1. Tourists will have to do an epidemiological survey by arrival and proof a negative PRC test done in the 48 hours leading up to arrival in Costa Rica.

CUBA reported only 2588 cases and 87 deaths on July 28. President Miguel Díaz-Canel declared on June 6 that the pandemic was under control marked one week without any deaths. Case numbers are falling in Cuba. On July 29, 13 of 15 provinces are in the final reopening phase. Havana province remains in phase one. Since July 1, areas in the north of the island welcome again international tourists for all-inclusive vacations. Tourists are tested upon arrival.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC reported more than 66 000 cases and 1100 deaths on July 28. On July 20 a 45-day national state of emergency was declared by the president with new restrictions and two new curfews starting on July 21. The borders are reopened for international tourism since July 1. Starting July 30, tourists will have to show negative molecular test upon arrival.

ECUADOR reported more than 82 000 cases and 5500 deaths on July 28. Since beginning May the country started to loosen the restrictions. Ecuador’s airports are reopened at 30% of their usual capacity for domestic and international flights since June. Apparently, Ecuador has passed the peak of infections.

GUATEMALA reported more than 47 000 cases and 1800 deaths on July 28. The reopening process of the country started on July 26, although the Health Ministry warned for a potential increase of cases in August. The state of calamity is extended until August 5, allowing the government to enforce a range of measures over time. The president indicated on July 8 that he would speak with airlines to certify flights, indicating that people travelling to Guatemala would undergo testing. He also suggested that in the coming weeks Central America should come to an agreement about air travel.

MEXICO reported more than 402 000 cases and 44 800 deaths on July 28. For the week of July 27, the president announces that 18 states are a red risk level and 14 at orange. Mexico started a ‘new normal’ since June 1 after the National Period of Healthy Distancing ended. The border between USA and Mexico will be closed for nonessential travel for at least until August 21.

PANAMA reported more than 62 000 cases and 1300 deaths on July 28. From July 17 until further notice parts of the country have returned to having weekends or complete quarantine and 5 out of the 10 provinces, including the capital, are under strict quarantine since July 24. On July 27 three provinces with low contagion rates went into the third and fourth reopening phases of the six-phases reopening process. Incoming international flights are suspended until at least August 21.

PERU reported more than 395 000 cases and 18 600 deaths on July 28. The president announced a new reactivation plan to the tourism sector on July 28. Machu Picchu still didn’t reopen but the Ministries responsible are coordinating the prompt reopening.  Some provinces of Peru remain in extended quarantine. National flights are running since July 16. The Ministry of Transport approved international regional flights between Bolivia, Colombia, Chile and Cusco which are set to be activated in September and Oktober.

URUGUAY confirmed only 1218 cases and 35 deaths on July 28. Since July 16 nationals and foreigners entering the country must submit to a temperature test upon landing, as well as present a negative result from PCR test taken nor more than two hours before travelling. Then they must self-isolate one week and take a second test after. Borders remain closed to commercial flights from Europe.

GENERAL TRAVEL ADVICE from the WHO

The WHO (World Health Organization) published an article on 30th of July now that international travel is resuming. The gradual lifting of travel measures should be based on a thorough risk assessment, taking into account country context, the local epidemiology and transmission patterns, the national health and social measures to control the outbreak, and the capacities of health systems in both departure and destination countries.

WHO recommends that priority should be given to essential travel for emergencies, humanitarian actions, travel of essential personnel and repatriation. Sick travellers and persons at risk including elderly travellers and people with chronic diseases or underlying health conditions, should avoid travelling internationally to and from areas with community transmission.

Travellers to Latin America should take into account this advice given by WHO:

  • Personal and hand hygiene
  • Respiratory etiquette
  • Maintaining physical distance of at least one metre from others
  • Use a mask appropriate
  • Sick travellers and travellers at risk should postpone travel internationally to and from areas with coronavirus community transmission

COVID-19 in Latin America (March- July 2020)

The Coronavirus came to Latin America on February 26, when Brazil confirmed a case in the city of São Paulo (although researchers have said that there are indications that there were cases in Latin America as early as January). Since then, governments across Latin America have taken an array of actions to protect their citizens and contain COVID-19’s spread.

In the second half of March, most Latin American countries closed their borders and imposed a system of forced social distancing, and this meant that all the Spanish Schools had to close their doors.

By April 3, all countries in South America recorded at least one case; by May 13, Latin America had reported over 400,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. On May 25, there were more than 31,000 deaths because of COVID-19 infections reported in Latin America. The WHO started to call Latin America ‘the new epicentre’ of the Corona Pandemic together with North America, after China and Europe.

At the moment of writing the first version of this article  (June 26, 2020), it was not yet possible to predict when it will be safe enough to travel again in Latin America or to learn Spanish at a Spanish School.

— If you don’t want to wait that long to start learning or improving your  Spanish, our Spanish Lessons Online are a great alternative! —

For sure, some countries have already started opening up (a bit).  After a strict lockdown in most countries with or without curfew and other restrictions, the shops are opening and you see much more people in the street. In many countries national travel is starting up; hopefully international travel will follow, we hope to see some borders opening soon (maybe Peru, or Colombia). Argentina gave ‘September 1’ as a possible date, while international flights have already landed in Mexico and Ecuador. Peru even announced the opening of Machu Picchu, but had to retract a few days later.

Please note that many announcements made by airlines are still subject to restrictions and governmental approval. And if there are not enough passengers, the flights will be cancelled by the airlines. And – the most important of all – : this is not only about ‘when we can travel again’, this is also about “is it safe again’, both for travelers but certainly also for the locals.

Here at SSLA, we are happy to keep you informed about the best options for Spanish courses in Latin America and receive your reservations. We also offer the opportunity to rebook your Spanish course for a later date.

Coronavirus in Latin America

COVID-19 OVERVIEW BY COUNTRY (June 26th, 2020)

Coronavirus in Latin America: What You Need to Know

ARGENTINA

On June 22, Argentina reported 1043 deaths from COVID-19. Argentina was the first country in Latin America to announce a death related to the Coronavirus on March 7. On June 7, the Government announced the start of a new social distancing phase that eases quarantine restrictions for large portions of the national territory.

Argentina has one of the world’s strictest travel bans, restricting all international commercial flights until September 1, 2020. The national health emergency in Argentina declared on March 12, will last for a whole year.

UPDATE Mid July

Buenos Aires entered a new stage of the coronavirus lockdown last Wednesday, as a new phase of compulsory social isolation kicked in. As ordered by the government, residents of the Argentine capital and surroundings face tighter restrictions until, at least, July 17.

The measures were introduced by the Argentine president after a rise in the number of coronavirus cases over the past few weeks.

BOLIVIA

Bolivia reported 876 deaths on June 23 and a total of 27,487 cases. The state of emergency was declared on March 11. On March 18, they announced that no visitors from Europe or Iran would be allowed in the country, and all land borders were closed, and all international flights were cancelled on the same date. Public transports and public markets were restrained. Since March 22, Bolivia has been in a rigorous quarantine. As of June 1, the Government has been gradually reopening, starting with the capital La Paz.

Update Coronavirus South America

CHILE

Chile has reported more cases and deaths. On June 24 there were 254 000 cases and 2648 deaths from COVID-19. On March 18, the state of catastrophe was declared, and all borders were closed. Protective masks have been mandatory in Chile since April 8. The president Piñera doesn’t believe in a nationwide quarantine and chose a strategic and dynamic quarantine.

COLOMBIA

Colombia reported 2491 deaths on June 23 and a total of 77,113 cases. The border was already totally closed on March 14. On March 17 the state of emergency was declared.

Certain parts of Colombia started to reopen on June 1, including Medellin. Cartagena and Bogota will remain under full quarantine until at least July 15.

Bogota’s mayor said Sunday, June 14, that local authorities will take control over both public and private hospitals to prevent the Coronavirus from collapsing the healthcare system of Colombia’s capital.

The President of Colombia, Iván Duque, announced that his Government is carrying out a pilot plan to reactivate the air sector. The first national flight with passengers could be taking off in July. The strictest biosecurity protocols will be put in place. Borders will not reopen until August 31; no international passenger flights will be allowed until at least the end of August.

Coronavirus in Colombia

Last week, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), President Duque announced a one-day lifting of sales tax, which caused chaos in many shopping malls. Though the hundreds of people waiting at the store mostly used masks, many were unable to observe social distancing. The president was criticized heavily for his decision. The regions of Bogotá and Cartagena are more affected by the Coronavirus than the city of Medellin.

UPDATE Mid July

Colombia’s national lockdown to control the spread of coronavirus will be extended by just over two weeks until Aug. 1, President Ivan Duque said on Tuesday. Colombia has now reported more than 124,400 cases of the novel coronavirus and 4,359 deaths.

COSTA RICA

Costa Rica was one of the positive exceptions in Central America. In Costa Rica, 12 deaths were reported on June 10; the first case in Central America was reported on March 6 and the state of emergency began on March 16. By March 18th, Costa Rica’s borders were closed. At the end of March, there were around 300 cases of COVID-19 in the country, with 15-30 new cases per day. By mid-May, Costa Rica was getting world praise for controlling COVID-19 and keeping the death rate very low.

Borders will remain closed to tourists at least until the end of June. Meanwhile, the country is already in the 3rd phase of reopening, which means that 50% of restaurants and bars are open.

National parks in Costa Rica are now operating at 50% capacity. Handwashing is required before entering and staff must wear masks or face shields or are stationed behind glass. They also take the temperature of the people buying the tickets. Benches have been sectioned off to distance people.

Costa Rica announced that masks will be required in many situations starting on June 27. This includes at restaurants (both servers and customers) and banks, on buses, in taxis, and at churches, cinemas, and theaters, whenever they reopen. The third phase of reopening (originally scheduled for June 20) was delayed after the recent spike in cases (second wave), but is supposed to resume soon with modifications.

A big uncertainty is the reopening of international borders. The government has been very vague about when borders will reopen. On June 22, they announced it would be a very gradual reopening, and countries with high transmission (like the US perhaps) would not be allowed to enter for some time. The government has still not specified a date that airports will open again or what countries will be permitted entry.

During the temporary closures, hotels and resorts in Costa Rica used the downtime to make repairs, implement employee training and offer discounts for future travel, in addition to the newly implemented health and safety guidelines.

Update Corona Pandemic South America

The guidelines for national and international tourists were compiled by the Costa Rican Ministry of Health and the Costa Rica Tourism Board. The country also boasts year-round activities like canopy ziplining, surfing, nocturnal tours, whale and bird watching, paddle boarding, parasailing and more.

CUBA

Cuba is another country who reported very few deaths: 84 on June 10. The Cuban health ministry allowed a British cruise ship to dock on March 16. The ship had several confirmed infected passengers. Cuba also deployed medical brigades to at least 20 countries to support local efforts.

There has been news that Cuba will be opening the airports and tourism starting July 1. But the Government said the country’s borders will be closed until indicated by the Government.

Cuba will test all visitors for Coronavirus when it reopens to international tourism, which will be limited at first to beach resorts. Prime minister Manuel Marrero Cruz said specialists would conduct epidemiological monitoring at hotels, where occupation would be limited. Excursions would be restricted to the keys. Visitors will not be able to visit Havana, the center of Cuba’s outbreak, at first. No dates have been set, but domestic tourism will be the first to resume.

Update situation Peru Covid-19

As of June 15 there was a report that new cases dropped to less than 10 per day on average from a peak of around 50, and two thirds of the island is virus-free.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

On June 20, the Dominican Republic reported 693 deaths. Since April 13th people have been required to wear masks in public spaces. A nationwide state of emergency and curfew was extended until June 13. Our Spanish School in the Santo Domingo is open for classes but the residences are closed.

UPDATE.  At July 1, the Dominican airports started to welcome again international flights from abroad, however, there is still no clear information from the officials what tourists can expect when coming to the Dominican Republic and how the safety protocols in detail look like. The curfew that existed over the last months has been lifted but the government has put the country under “sanitary emergency”. Restaurants and other businesses though still have to close at 8pm.

Also, there has been a significant increase in infection rates over the last 3 weeks in the Dominican Republic. This is very likely just the result of the higher numbers of testing now taking place over those last weeks since the ruling party has stepped up their election campaign.

ECUADOR

Ecuador (more info: see below*) is one of the countries with the most deaths per 100 000 people; on June 10 they reported a total of 3720 deaths. The national health emergency was declared on March 11. On May 4 the country started to loosen some restrictions.

Since June 1, international flights have been allowed at 30% of their usual capacity. If you come from abroad, you have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before boarding. Upon landing, you will have to spend five days in isolation.

As of June 4, Quito and Guayaquil airports have resumed operations. American and United are resuming services to both cities, while Eastern, JetBlue and Spirit are planning to only operate out of Guayaquil. Some of the sanitary protection protocols at the airports include: proper social distancing, a shoe sanitizing mat, face masks, passing through body temperature control (if a traveler registers a high temperature, they will not be able to travel and will be evaluated by health personnel) and applying hand sanitizer on hands.

News corona pandemic Latin America

GUATEMALA

Guatemala, reported 316 confirmed deaths on June 10. The central American country has announced travel restrictions and measures as of March 13 and borders were closed on March 17. Face masks have been obligated in public since April 13. The state of health calamity is extended until July.

MEXICO

Mexico (more info: see below*) confirmed 24 324 deaths on June 23 and almost 200,000 cases! The national health emergency was declared on March 30. Canada, Mexico and the USA agreed to extend the suspension of nonessential border travel until June 21.

Schools in Mexico will start to reopen on August 10. On June 1 the National Period of Health Distancing ended, and it marked the beginning of a “new normal”. The testing rate in Mexico is low: 2.3 per 1000 people (compared to 37.1 per 1000 people in Chile).

Foreign visitors have begun to trickle back to Mexico’s Caribbean coast as its beaches gradually reopen to tourism with new sanitary measures in place to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Several international flights to and from the United States have been registered at the Cancun terminal: destinations are Charlotte, Chicago, Houston, Miami, Dallas and Montreal. American Airlines, United Airlines and Sun Country already operate at the airport, while Spirit Airlines will resume flights to Cancun from June 25. Hotels in the Mexican Caribbean reopened their doors to tourism, applying rigorous sanitary measures to protect the health of both visitors and workers.

Sanitary measures to protect the health

PANAMA

The country of Panama reported 521 deaths and 28,052 cases on June 25. All incoming international flights are suspended until June 22. At the moment, the country is in the second phase of its reopening process.

PERU

Peru has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases in Latin America following Brazil. The Peruvian president declared the state of emergency on March 15; it has been extended until the end of June. Peru handles strict penalties for those who violate the national curfew and measures. The Amazon city of Iquitos and the capital city of Lima are the hardest-hit areas in Peru.

Peru (more info: see below*) reported 8586 death toll on June 20 and a total of 264,689 confirmed cases.

However the country is opening up little by little and restrictions on overland travel throughout the country have been lifted, shopping malls are open. Restaurants are expected to re-open in July. There is still a national curfew between 9pm and 4am.

Preventive measures against Coronavirus

Some domestic flights and overland travel will start operating again from July 15, and international flights are expected to resume in August.

UPDATE: On June 27, the Peruvian Government has extended the State of National Emergency until July 31, supported by a localized quarantine against COVID-19 focused on seven regions of Peru, while social isolation will be lifted in the rest of the country starting July 1. Among the seven regions are Ica and Arequipa. International borders are to remain closed.

URUGUAY

Uruguay reported 902 cases and 23 deaths on June 10. Uruguay has distributed many food baskets to informal workers these last months. On June 1, Uruguay entered the first phase of return to in-person classes at a lot of schools. Shopping malls reopened on June 9. Some international flights are still going to Uruguay, at 5% of its standard capacity and only for residents.

UPDATE: The European Union agreed on June 30 to reopen its borders to 14 countries excluding the virus-stricken US; of Latin America the only country included in the list is Uruguay.

Coronavirus at high altitude

Tips for Future travel to Latin America after the pandemic

It is too early to say what traveling or studying Spanish will be like after the pandemic but both national and private tourist related institutions and companies are trying to prepare for ‘the new normal’ in Latin America.

  • Check out the reservation policies of the airlines
    Most airlines have made special cancellation policies for people in this situation.
  • LATAM: Customers with tickets affected by border closure restrictions will be able to change the date of the flight without penalties or fare differences, the new flights must be completed before the end of 2020. Customers making new bookings with LATAM until the end of 2020 will be able to change the date and destination without penalty.
  • AVIANCA: If you have a ticket to fly before October 31, you can make multiple changes without penalty or fare difference, if your new flight is before October 31. You can also apply for a voucher for the same amount of your ticket and use it later.
  • COPA airlines also offer extra flexibility. You can keep your ticket and plan your trip to travel later at no additional charge. You can also request refunds.

Please check the websites of the airline itself for more details and conditions and feel free to contact us any time to learn about the current situation in the Latin American country of your choice for your Spanish Abroad program.

  • Tours in Latin America

Tourist agencies all over Latin America are designing new protocols to organize tours. One of the biggest highlights of Latin America, the Inca Citadel Machu Picchu, was programmed to reopen on July 1. However, the local authorities had to push back to opening date due to protests of the local community living nearby Machu Picchu. Once it opens, a limited audience (maximum 75 per hour) would enter the ruins after a temperature check and hand and shoe cleaning, and the routes will be limited.

The front runners

Coronavirus in Latin America: What You Need to Know

As of Mid-June, the ‘front runners’ when it comes to the number of infections and deaths, are without a doubt, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Mexico. They have reported the highest numbers of death per 100 000 people. Brazil has had more than 610,000 confirmed cases – the second highest in the world. Some researchers say that the countries in Latin America could be significantly under-reporting confirmed cases and deaths, with many cases undiagnosed.

Coronavirus in Latin America: What You Need to Know

Unlike most European countries, many countries in Latin America are seeing their daily cases and deaths increasing. A graphic made by BBC on June 5 is clearly showing this trend.

As daily cases continue to rise, there are concerns that healthcare systems could be overwhelmed, as has already been the case in Ecuador.

Chile’s healthcare system is “very close to the limit”, according to President Sebastián Piñera. And Pilar Mazzetti, who is leading of the Peruvian Government’s coronavirus response, has said: “We are in bad shape. This is war.”

Learn more: some numbers of Coronavirus in Latin America.

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