Panama Imposes New Travel Restrictions From South America

Panama is now part of a small group of countries that are planning to allow restriction-free travels for vaccinated people all across the world. Despite that openness, the Panamanian Government has also issued new travel restrictions to non-vaccinated people coming from South America. Let’s investigate further.

Copa Airlines Getty
Panama is increasing its travel restrictions to travelers coming from South America. Photo: Getty Images.

First, the good news

Two weeks ago, Panama announced that it wouldn’t put any travel restrictions or requirements on vaccinated travelers. In a statement, the Government said,

“Those people who have their doses set, even if they come from other countries, do not need to swab or carry out traceability because those people must already have immunity in an adequate state.”

Despite the announcement made by the Panamanian Government, there’s no official date for this measure to start. At the moment, travelers, whether or not they’re vaccinated, must handle a negative PCR test at their arrival on Panamanian soil.

Worldwide, at least 12 other countries are planning or allowing vaccinated people to enter without travel requirements.

In Central and South America, besides Panama, these countries are Belize, Guatemala, and Ecuador, according to TimeOut. We are not counting Mexico on this list; the Mexican Government has not imposed any travel restrictions during the pandemic.

Elsewhere, other countries that will lift restrictions for vaccinated travelers are:

  1. Malta, starting on June 1 for British travelers who can provide proof
  2. Greece, beginning on May 14
  3. Cyprus will welcome Israeli visitors and British travelers from May 1
  4. Poland has already started
  5. Estonia has already started
  6. Iceland has already started
  7. Romania has already started
  8. Slovenia has already started
  9. Seychelles has already opened up its borders regardless of vaccination status.

Thailand and Singapore are analyzing opening up borders for vaccinated travelers.

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Copa Airlines is the main carrier in Panama, and it is trialing the IATA Travel Pass. Photo: Getty Images

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Now the bad news

Not everything is as smooth as it should be. Today, Panama launched a new travel restriction against every person coming from South America. This is an attempt to contain the importation of COVID-19 cases from these countries.

Every traveler coming from South America should arrive with a negative PCR test, said the Panamanian Government. Moreover, at arrival, they will have to take a second PCR test and quarantine at a designated hotel for five days.

On the fifth day, the passenger will have to take a third PCR test and, if the result is negative, will be freed from the quarantine. But,

“If the result is positive, the traveler will have to go through a 14-day quarantine at the Hospital Hotel for COVID-19 travelers.”

Many countries do COVID-19 tests for travelers on arrival. Photo: Getty Images

I’m traveling via Panama, what should I do?

The Tocumen International Airport in Panama City is a hotspot for people traveling elsewhere in Latin and North America. Copa Airlines has built a hub in this airport, connecting with every country on the continent.

Therefore, many passengers don’t stay in Panama (and Panama is working to change that). So, what does that mean regarding the new health measures?

According to, people traveling via Panama are not forced to comply with the new travel restrictions. Additionally, the six-hour flight connections are no longer in effect.

For Copa Airlines, this is key because most of its travelers don’t go to Panama but use the airport only as a connection point.

Are you planning to travel to or via Panama any time soon? Let us know in the comments.