SANTIAGO – People across the country anxiously awaited the coronavirus daily briefing on Mar. 22, as virus-related numbers continue to climb. As expected, health authorities announced more severe restrictions to reduce transmission and 13.7 million Chileans will be in quarantine on Mar. 25. There are also new measures in place for incoming international travelers.
A recent surge in coronavirus cases and high demand for ICU beds have left the Chilean government with very limited options to maintain a balance between the economy and health concerns. On Mar. 22, the Health Ministry stated that another 21 comunas in the Metropolitan region will enter quarantine on Mar. 25, meaning that as many as 13.7 million people across the country will be under phase 1 of the Paso a Paso plan.
Additionally, Public Health Subsecretary Paula Daza announced that general purpose commute permits will no longer be available on weekends as authorities emphasized the need to keep as many people home as possible.
"Se suspende el permiso de desplazamiento de los fines de semana y feriados. Comienza a regir desde este 27 de marzo". pic.twitter.com/7VJmbg4Hqx
— Ministerio de Salud (@ministeriosalud) March 22, 2021
“We are beginning a very complex week from a healthcare perspective,” said Health Minister Enrique Paris prior to revealing new time slots for outdoor exercise: 7 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. on weekdays, and 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. on weekends and public holidays.
A stricter announcement followed regarding the general purpose permits that people are allowed twice per week to run errands in quarantined areas (or on weekends in comunas under phase 2). Daza explained that this permit – which people use to do their grocery shopping, attend medical appointments and more – will be restricted to weekday use only. “It is a strict measure, it’s harsh, we know, but we hope it is temporary,” Daza said.
UPDATE: Public Health subsecretary Paula Daza indicated that the weekend restriction on general purpose permits will only apply on Mar. 27 and 28.
Health authorities have stressed that it is important that people “stay home on weekends.”
Quarantine Requirements for International Travelers
On Mar. 20, the Health Ministry announced new measures for incoming travelers from abroad. A new compulsory 10-day quarantine is required for all travelers, regardless of their country of origin, including Chilean nationals. Passengers who test positive for coronavirus within 14 days of arriving will be put into a quarantine hotel (sanitary residence) for 11 days; likewise, those who show at least one or two identified symptoms will have to go to a quarantine hotel until coronavirus infection is ruled out.
Daza explained that “the commute to the [passenger’s] self-isolation place must be direct, without interactions with others and always with a face mask on.” She also added that self-isolation must be done individually or collectively if traveling with a group.
Due to the Brazilian variant, the Chilean government now also requires all passengers who have been in Brazil (up to two weeks prior to their arrival in Chile) to go to a transit hotel, where they will be allowed to leave after 72 hours only if they test negative for coronavirus. Travelers who test negative and leave will then have to complete a 10-day self-isolation period. Authorities also warned that all expenses related to entering from Brazil must be paid for by the passenger when the passenger applies for a sanitary passport before boarding the flight to Chile.
Francisco is finishing his degree in Journalism at Universidad Finis Terrae in Santiago.