COVID-19 UPDATE 30th November 2020
The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020 brought about unprecedented disruption to the travel industry. Most countries in Latin America closed their borders to international travellers as part of their efforts to control the virus and introduced a variety of lockdown measures. We have been monitoring these closely and set out below a brief summary of the situation as at the end of November 2020.
Our partners and most of our destination hotels have responded as best they can and have endeavoured to be as flexible as possible. Most have offered to postpone any affected booking to new dates at no extra charge, in some cases as much as two years in the future. With respect to cancellation policies, the hotels have all responded in their own way and some have implemented very flexible booking conditions. The situation is complex but we will do our utmost to secure the most flexible terms possible and update our guests on Covid-19 procedures.
Some of the worst affected countries in Latin America remain closed to international visitors, although in most cases measures are in place to open up to international flights in the near future. Other countries were relatively lightly affected and are open again to international tourism, subject to strict Covid-19 entry requirements. We can keep you updated on these and would refer you to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth travel advice website. Please note that travel insurance is unlikely to be available for any destination where FCO advice is against all but essential travel.
At Miraviva we have been based in the Caribbean for four weeks so have first-hand experience of international flights and Covid entry requirements during the pandemic. We can advise you on these. We took the decision not to send any guests away before December 2020 at the earliest and have been looking closely to refine our product by concentrating on islands and remote destinations which we consider have the safest anti-Covid measures in place.
Argentina – The government implemented some of the strongest anti-Covid measures and at the date of writing international borders remain closed, although a number of destinations are starting to reopen.
Uruguay – likewise remains closed to international travellers with the exception of a few special exemptions.
Chile – imposed strong lockdown measures although international borders were due to reopen on the 23rd November.
Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands – the Galapagos Islands were one of the first destinations to reopen because tourism has always been subject to strict controls and is relatively easy to monitor. International flights resumed at the end of August. The rest of the country is opening up but borders with Colombia and Peru remain closed.
Peru – the country was badly affected by Coronavirus, but reopening of the country has been gradual and carefully implemented. Flights to the USA and all other Latin American countries started again at the beginning of November, the government has announced that European flights will resume soon. Machu Picchu has reopened.
Colombia – strict lockdown rules were swiftly implemented including a general curfew, but Cartagena was the first city to return to relative normality with international flights to the USA resuming and museums reopening at the beginning of October. Since then the rest of the country has been steadily reopening. We would still advise against travelling extensively within the country.
Cost Rica – was relatively lightly affected and opened again to international travel relatively quickly. The nature of tourism there is to visit a limited number of destinations, some of them quite remote and at the time of writing it is one of the safer destinations in Latin America.
Brazil – although the country was severely affected, lockdown rules were ‘light touch’ and the domestic travel market remained busy. Due to the size of the country and the nature of travel there, we would caution against travel there for the time being.
We can provide further information for other Latin American countries and the Caribbean.
Most countries require international travellers to produce a negative covid test (PCR) taken between 72 hours and 96 hours prior to arrival. In some cases this may need to be emailed to the relative authority prior to arrival, sometimes together with a registration form. Please note you should also carry a printed copy with you when you travel. On arrival at your destination you will have your temperature checked.
In many cases travellers are not required to quarantine on arrival, but may well have to quarantine on return to their country of origin.
We found that Nomad Travel Clinics provided a quick and reasonable test and travel form in cities within the UK.
Airports are mostly well geared up to travel during the pandemic, face masks must be worn during international flights and the rules on facemask wearing can vary between countries, but also between different hotels. Social distancing is a uniform requirement everywhere.
Overall however, we feel that these requirements should be viewed in a positive fashion and we would urge international travellers should not be put off by these. They are intended for everyone’s benefit.