Posted on 11/10/2020

#Society #Panama

Panama is reopening its borders for international visitors from October 12

After a six-month long lockdown, Panama has started to spring back to life, and now it's ready to welcome international visitors to reboot tourism in the country. Visiting Panama will not be the same during an ongoing pandemic, but the government has worked hard to maintain a safe environment so that locals and tourists can spend their days stress-free.

Safety protocol

Safety protocol dani3315/123RF

Panama has endured one of the strictest lockdowns the world has ever seen - residents were only allowed to go outside for two hours each day. There was a tight curfew set in place and no one could exit their residence between 7pm and 5am. After the success of the lockdown, the government began to ease up on their strategy, and various restrictions were lifted on September 28. Since then, restaurants, retail shops and cafes have been open for business, and people have had unlimited access to public spaces like beaches and parks. Domestic tourism was also given the green light, and the locals have been able to move around the country freely. Given all these changes, the government has emphasized the importance of wearing a mask - failure to do so will result in either custody or a fine.

But allowing international visitors to enter the country is a different ball game from domestic tourism. Panama wanted to open its borders but minimize the risk, hence why they are taking extreme precautions to ensure safety for the country. It is now obligatory for incoming travellers to present a negative Covid-19 test on arrival, and this test has to be taken at least 48 hours prior to their arrival in Panama. If a passenger presents a result that was taken before 48 hours, they will have to do a rapid Covid-19 test at the airport which will cost them around 23. Passengers who arrive at the airport with a high fever, despite presenting a negative test, will be tested again. And if the result is positive, they will be quarantined in a hotel for seven days. Due to this stringent protocol, Panama has decided not to bar tourists from any country.

Ivan Eskildsen, the Minister of Tourism explained that they have been working hard to protect the citizens and the tourists, and because of their efforts, they have been accredited with the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travels stamp. "Our beautiful country, rich in nature, biodiversity and cultural heritage is once again ready to be discovered," he said.

There are a few things that tourists should keep in mind in order to plan their trip. Restaurants have a limited number of diners they can accommodate, so it's advised to book a table beforehand. This also applies to museums and tourist attractions, as they have reduced their capacity by 50%.

The country is set to reopen on October 12, however the government has issued a word of warning. The country will only be allowed to accept international visitors if the death rate is below 3%, if the respiratory care unit is below 15% capacity, and if the hospital beds do not rise above 20% occupancy rate.