SANTIAGO – The Health Ministry announced a series of changes to the Protected Borders Plan. Internationals arriving from seven southern African nations will be barred from entering the country. The changes follow reports of a new COVID-19 variant.
On Nov. 30, the Ministry of Health (Minsal) announced a travel ban on non-Chilean residents coming from several African nations, in light of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant. The travel ban starts Wednesday, Dec. 1. The measure will affect those who have been to the following seven countries within the last 14 days:
- South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Minsal also introduced measures for residents and nationals of Chile. Those returning from one of these seven countries will be able to enter but must take a PCR test upon arrival and self-isolate for at least seven days. The ministry said these measures will apply to all regardless of vaccination status or PCR test result.
Non-residents who have not traveled to any of the restricted countries will be allowed to enter Chile provided they have been vaccinated with a Minsal-approved vaccine or meet the Ministry of the Interior’s exemption requirements. Children under the age of six will also be permitted entry, and their nationality, country of residence, and vaccination status will not be a prerequisite to entry.
All passengers above the age of two traveling to Chile must continue to take a PCR test at least 72 hours before departure. They will also have to complete a Traveler Affidavit (Passenger Locator Form) before boarding their flight to Chile. Both a negative PCR result along with a completed Traveler Affidavit will enable the entry of passengers.
For non-residents, proof of vaccination and medical insurance covering the cost of coronavirus-related illnesses are also required upon arrival.
Other measures relating to the new variant include a tighter watch on those confirmed or suspected of having the novel variant. People with positive PCR tests for the Omicron variant along with those suspected of having the new strain will have to complete mandatory quarantine in government-approved health residences or where the authorities declare appropriate to do so.
As research continues into the development of the new strain, stricter epidemiological surveillance of people from abroad will be strengthened to detect the new variant in a timely manner. In terms of leaving Chile, restrictions will be removed at the authorized border crossings. That is, no Mobility Pass or Virtual Police Station permit will be required to leave the country.
Minsal also announced the delay of reopening terrestrial passages in some parts of the country. The areas of Chacalluta, Colchane, and Pino Hachado are the most affected by the deferment. Contrary to the delay, air spaces will remain open in the regions of Antofagasta, Iquique, Punta Arenas, and Santiago.
Emmanuela is an International Relations and Modern Languages student from the Univeristy of East Anglia. Human Rights is of key interest to her as are culture, politics and sports.