Health Minister Enrique Paris announced on Monday during his last press conference as minister that Covid-19 measures at the Santiago airport will be relaxed. Instead of a mandatory PCR test for all tourists arriving, the test will now be applied randomly. Chilean health authorities were under increasing pressure of tourist organizations and airlines to eliminate the measure.
During his last press conference as minister of Health, Paris said that the strict measures, causing tourists to wait for hours to enter Chile upon their arrival, will be relaxed. He said only half of the tourists arriving will be submitted to a PCR-test, all randomly chosen. The time-consuming process that awaited foreign tourists upon their arrival at Santiago’s airport was criticized by travel organizations. They said the mandatory PCR tests that tourists had to take caused the airport to collapse.
The executive vice president of the Federation of Tourism Companies of Chile (Fedetur), Helen Kouyoumdjian, welcomed the announcement. “Although it does not end with the requirement to request PCR upon arrival in Chile, the fact that it is random, should make the procedures at the Santiago Airport more expeditious for tourists arriving in our territory, and thus not have to wait hours at the terminal, as it happens until today,” she said in a statement, according to El Mostrador.
Earlier on Monday, the Chilean Airline Association demanded an end to the mandatory PCR test. The association said the measure scared off tourists. The high influx of tourists combined with (according to the association) the improving health situation makes the PCR tests passé. The administrative process ahead of the journey, in which tourists are asked to upload several documents such as a proof of vaccination, should be reconsidered as well, Cristóbal Lea-Plaza, General Secretary of the Chilean Airline Association, said according to Cooperativa.
“Having to do this process takes [several] days. Therefore, it does not provide the necessary certainty for tourists to be able to enter Chile,” Lea-Plaza said. He argued the lengthy and bureaucratic process might scare off tourists who are considering a visit to Chile.
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Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and works with international media during major events, like the social crisis, the elections and the Pope’s visit.