Health & Safety in Patagonia
Find out how our partners in Patagonia are adapting their operations and policies to a post-Covid world, and what you can expect on your trip to Patagonia.
The following is intended as an overview of significant events since March 2020, which we will continue to update based on the best information available at the time. However, we strongly advise that you check your respective government's travel advice for the region before making any travel decisions, as the situation is fast evolving and Swoop will not be held liable for any actions or decisions taken as a result of the information provided below.
The Argentine president announced the extension of the closure of Argentina’s international borders until the 25th of June for non-residents, with direct flights from certain countries such as Brazil, India and the UK still banned. A variety of restrictive measures continue to be in place nationwide, which are implemented to greater or lesser degree depending on the severity of the local epidemiological situation. So far, Argentina is close to having vaccinated 30% of its total population with at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine.
Chilean authorities announced the extension of the closure of its international borders to non-residents / nationals until the end of June. The country continues to operate regional lockdown measures to combat its third-wave of infections. Meanwhile, approximately 60% of the country’s population have received at least one dose of their Covid-19 vaccine applications, with about 50% of all Chileans fully vaccinated - making it one of the world’s most rapid vaccination rollouts so far.
As of today the Chilean government has introduced a green pass for vaccinated domestic travellers in Chile. The Pase de movilidad is an electronic certificate, downloadable on a cell-phone, issued to fully-vaccinated individuals 14 days after the completion of their vaccination program. The certificate allows carriers to enter all but the most covid-stressed regions of the country, and move more freely in their local areas, but is not an authorisation for international travel. Chile’s borders remain closed to non-resident foreign nationals until at least the 15th of June. 50% of the Argentine population have now received at least one COVID-19 inoculation and 40% of all Chileans have completed their full vaccine doses.
The Argentine government has enhanced the nationwide lockdown measures in an attempt to curb the recent spike in cases. These new conditions include a stricter curfew, restrictions on public meetings, limitations to commercial activity and schools once more being closed. Travel is restricted to authorised persons only. These measures are to be reviewed at the end of May. Argentina’s borders remain closed to tourists. Vaccination continues steadily, with approximately 20% of the population having received either one or two doses.
Commercial airlinks between the Falklands Islands and both Chile and Brazil, will remain suspended until the 1st of October 2021.
Laboratorios Richmond in Argentina has become the first producer in Latin America of the Sputnik V vaccine. Quality control measures of this first batch are currently being carried out in Russia. Mass production will hopefully commence in June with an output of approximately 1 million doses per month, with the eventual output rising to about 500 million doses per year, once a new production plant is constructed.
Argentine president, Alberto Fernendez announced new restrictions which are to be implemented until at least the end of April. Measures include a night-time curfew, the closure of many public spaces, and a prohibition of group gatherings both in public and in private. Whilst the country’s borders have been closed to tourists since December last year, tighter quarantine controls are being put in place for Argentine nationals and residents returning to the country. More than 5 million individuals have received one or two doses of Covid-19 vaccines.
Despite its massive vaccination rollout with over 36% of the population vaccinated, Chile has announced the closure of its borders for the rest of the month of April, for all but essential travel. Entry to Chile is solely for Chilean nationals and residents, and under strict protocols, with tourists not allowed to enter. Some terrestrial borders are remaining open for the sole purpose of receiving essential import items, again with strict protocols for drivers. On the 1st of April Chile registered a total of more than 1 million cases since the start of the pandemic. Nationwide curfews have been made stricter in order to limit the spread of the virus.
Chile reaches the milestone of having vaccinated 6 million of its inhabitants, approximately one-third of the total population.
To date, Chile has inoculated approximately 3 million inhabitants (total population of 19 million) with Argentina having vaccinated almost 600,000 individuals (total population of 45 million). The number of active cases in both countries is gradually decreasing.
The Argentine international border remains closed to non-nationals, and travel restrictions and protocols exist for entry into Chile.
Chile has commenced nationwide vaccinations. Having inoculated medical workers over the past two months, the program now includes the wider population, starting with the elderly. Chilean health workers have administered almost 600,000 doses to frontline workers and people over 80. The rest of the population will be inoculated in a managed rollout and it is estimated that most of the Chilean population will be immunised by mid-2021.
So far, both the Pfizer and Sinovac vaccines have been applied, with deliveries of both the AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson inoculations expected. Chile has purchased more than 30 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines.
The Argentine minister for health stated that the country has signed contracts for the provision of more than 62 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, from a variety of manufacturers; Sputnik V, AstraZeneca and Covax. This supply would be enough to immunise the entire adult population of a country with approximately 45 million inhabitants. Argentina’s voluntary vaccination program began in December with the elderly and health workers having been given priority with some 300,000 individuals having received the first dose of two, and 160,000 both doses.
Argentina has extended the closure of its international border to tourists until the end of February. As cases steadily increase, this has been seen as a necessary measure by national authorities, in order to bring the number of contagions under control, together with the continued implementation of a nation-wide vaccination program.
In both Chile and Argentina, the summer holiday season has seen a significant number of national tourists, as expected, travelling throughout their own country as international travel remains highly restrictive. Both national governments have provided various economic incentives to support tour operators and hotels, as well as requiring new protocols to be adhered to, with varying success. In both countries vaccination programs have begun. As the number of cases of Covid-19 is steadily rising in the region, stricter governmental controls are expected to be implemented in the forthcoming weeks as a response.
National authorities in Chile announce obligatory 10-day self-isolation for all individuals entering Chile, regardless of nationality, country of residency, or countries visited prior to arrival. A person can only come out of self-isolation if a PCR test is taken 7 days after arrival, and returns a negative result. Tourists who have visited the UK in the 14 days previous to arrival, are not allowed entry, whilst Chilean nationals/residents must undertake 14 days obligatory self-isolation.
Both Chile and Argentina will prohibit flights to and from the United Kingdom given the detection of a new strain of COVID-19 in Britain. This new measure, lasting 2 weeks, will come into force from the start of Tuesday 22nd of December. Chile, where the international border is open to all nationalities, is prohibiting the entry to tourists who have been in the UK during the last 14 days, regardless of their route of entry.
Following a staggered opening of its national parks, Torres del Paine, perhaps the country’s most emblematic protected area, has re-opened for visitors. Having closed in late August due to a local covid outbreak, the main trails of the park are now open for visitors. Most national parks in Chile are receiving visitors whilst also exercising strict protocols and in some cases limiting the number of visitors allowed.
As Chile continues to experience an overall drop in Covid-19 cases, government officials announce that the country will open its entry-point at Santiago International airport for all nationalities as of 23rd November. All other international airports and borders will remain closed to foreign nationals until further notice. Tourists entering Chile will be required to present negative PCR results from the last 72hrs, sign an affidavit and will be tracked during their stay via a government application. For the first 2 weeks of the opening, until the 7th of December, foreigners coming from WHO-classified ‘high-risk’ countries will have to keep a 2-week quarantine upon arrival.
Argentina will open its borders to residents of neighbouring countries as of the 1st of December. A few hotels have, under strict protocols, begun to receive domestic travellers. Several international airlines are beginning to operate flights into Argentina, although immigration authorities still will not allow tourists from non-neighbouring nations to enter.
Covid-19 cases in Chile continue to steadily decrease allowing businesses, restaurants and shopping malls to reopen, and some inter-regional travel is permitted. Some regions, however, remain in strict lockdown, including the southern region of Magallanes, located in Patagonia, which is experiencing an upsurge in cases.
Argentine president Alberto Fernandez announced a 14-day period of increased quarantine restrictions in most of the country due to the spread of Covid-19 cases (ending 25th of October). Inter-provincial movement remains highly restrictive and international borders remain shut.
While some ‘special departure’ international flights are resuming service into Buenos Aires (American Airlines and Aerolineas Argentinas return from the US, Miami specifically, and British Airways from London) Argentina is still not yet accepting tourists, only returning residents.
A confirmed date for the resumption of national and international flights in Argentina still hasn’t materialised. Each provincial government must agree on the protocols to be implemented and accept the opening of its borders for this to occur. Both Chile’s and Argentina’s borders remain closed to non-nationals or residents.
Chile’s President announces the extension of its Official State of Emergency for a further 90 days.
After opening for locals only, Torres del Paine National Park in Chile has had to re-close due to an increase in Covid-19 cases in the Puerto Natales area. The town and surrounding area have been put on lockdown until further notice.
An easing of restrictions on international flight restrictions in September to and from Argentina was announced by the National Government and Civil Aviation Authority. Aerolineas Argentinas, Air Europa, Air France, KLM, Iberia and American Airlines will begin operating routes between Buenos Aires and Europe, the USA and some regional neighbours, on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, with a plan to incrementally increase frequency as conditions allow.
A lack of clarity still exists around the resumption of domestic flights within Argentina, as of yet no official announcement has been made.
The Chilean Health Minister announces a national 10% drop in new Covid-19 cases over the past 14 days.
Argentine Minister for Transport has stated that internal flights in Argentina will not commence on the 1st of September, as had been announced by the government back in April. The minister has said that flights will be highly restricted and could resume operation within the next 60 days. The timeframe for the resumption of international flights has not yet been clarified.
The opening of the borders in Argentina is still scheduled from 1st September. No visitor visas are being considered until 1st September, and all commercial flights continue to be suspended. The re-opening of the borders and resumption of flights is not guaranteed after 1st September, it may or may not happen, but for now, that is the date. Once borders open it's not clear yet whether visitors from all countries will automatically be accepted and what the parameters would be.
President of Chile, Sebastian Piñera, announces that the overall countrywide cases of COVID-19 are steadily dropping. Northern areas of Chile are the most at risk for new COVID-19 cases.
Buenos Aires metropolitan area enters phase 2 of its easing of confinement measures. The relaxing of quarantine measures has allowed families to leave their homes at certain times, and commerce to resume.
Lockdown is reimposed in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area after a rise in coronavirus cases following gradual relaxation of confinement measures during the previous few weeks. At this point, the rest of the country is experiencing more relaxed measures, with no obligatory confinement.
LATAM Argentina declares they will stop operating all of their 12 national flight routes in Argentina as a result of their economic situation. Several regional flights between neighbouring countries will also be significantly reduced.
Chile's LATAM Airlines files for US bankruptcy protection. LATAM, Latin America's largest carrier, says it will continue to fly through its bankruptcy restructuring, although its Argentine branch will cease.
Argentina blocks commercial flight sales until September.
Chile introduces a curfew in the worst affected areas of Metropolitan Santiago, along with complete shut-down in some areas of central-northern Chile.
Chile suffers its first reported Covid-19 associated death.
All national and international flights into Argentina are grounded. Only repatriation flights can bring Argentine nationals or foreign residents into the country. Inter-provincial public transport is also completely shut down.
Chile closes all borders for entry. Only Chilean nationals and foreign residents can enter and must comply with 14-day self-isolation measures. Airlines implement a dramatic reduction in flights in and out of the country.
Chile closes Torres del Paine National Park to all visitors, as well as many other natural areas.
Argentinian President, Alberto Fernandez, announces the closure of the country's borders to all non-residents in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Provincial/state borders in the country begin to be blocked for travel. According to the Ministry of Health, there are at least 56 cases of the virus nationwide.
Flights from Europe and the United States are suspended.
Argentina begins closing certain land-border crossings in an attempt to stem the entry of the virus into the country.
WHO (the World Health Organisation) makes the assessment that Covid-19 should be characterized as a pandemic.
Argentina registers the first Covid-19 related death in Latin America.
Find out how our partners in Patagonia are adapting their operations and policies to a post-Covid world, and what you can expect on your trip to Patagonia.
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