Since March 17, Chilean borders are closed to non-essential travel. Only Chileans and foreigners who are residents may enter, in addition to certain specific requirements that must be approved by the Regional Ministerial Secretary of Health: personal or family emergencies, health or work issues, among others. According to the Undersecretary of Public Health, Paula Daza, the plan that the portfolio is developing contemplates a gradual opening. Therefore, at this stage, the international air barrier will only be lifted through the Arturo Merino Benítez airport, while the rest of the borders will remain closed. Nevertheless, there will be no restriction on where visitors come from and they will be allowed to travel from anywhere in the world, regardless of the epidemiological situation in their country.
As a safety measure, visitors must fill out an affidavit specifying their origin and destination, as well as their health condition and the potential occurrence of COVID-19 symptoms before traveling to Chile. They will also be required to submit a negative PCR test whose results are less than 72 hours old after the sample was taken, carried out in a laboratory certified by the local health authority. Visitors will not have to quarantine and will be able to tour freely but will be tracked through an app that will monitor their symptoms.
“It is very important that the principle of traceability is up and running before opening the borders: all people entering the country, both Chileans and foreigners, will be under a 14-day monitoring period. They will be required to report their symptoms and location,” said Daza, who added that people who fail to report their status and fail to comply with the report may be penalized.
The Executive Vice President of the Federation of Tourism Companies of Chile (Fedetur), Helen Kouyoumdjian, considers the announcement to be favorable. “When you know that the borders are going to be opened before December, you can operate with a clear perspective, because reservations will not be booked overnight. We estimate that we will have about 30% of our regular demand in January.”
However, given the complex epidemiological situation in several countries, Kouyoumdijan explains that for the summer season of 2020-2021 “we are heavily committed to domestic tourism, for people to stay in Chile and explore the country. We have asked our partners and the entire industry for flexibility -that is, to be able to reschedule a trip that has been canceled due to the pandemic-, good rates, and for companies to implement the relevant safety protocols.”