Panama To Allow Transit Passengers Again

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Earlier this week, Panama announced that it would be opening its borders to select individuals. The country’s borders have been completely locked down since late March until a decree was signed on July 31st to change that. Transiting passengers are among those who will benefit from the new ruling, but the country is not yet ready to fully restart tourism.

COPA Airlines at Panama Airport
Panama is reopening with international flights under special circumstances. Photo: Getty Images

New decree for travelers to Panama

In an executive decree signed by Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo on July 31st, restricted movement will now be permitted for certain travelers to and from Panama. Details of the ruling were shared by the Latin American & Caribbean Air Transport Association on social networking site LinkedIn. In the decree, the Panamanian government expressed that it was,

“establishing a controlled operation for the interconnection of international commercial aviation which allows limited transit through Tocumen International Airport for the exit and controlled entry of Panamanians and residents of Panama.”

However, it also went further to say that new rights would be allowed for transiting passengers through the country. Providing that their two flights were no longer than six hours apart, foreign nationals will be allowed to travel through Tocumen International Airport without restrictions.

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TIA outside view
Foreign nationals on connecting flights through Panama will be allowed to enter Tocumen International Airport if their flight meets the conditions. Photo: Getty Images

A final offer of entry was given to those who have previous authorization from the Panamanian government to travel to the country, provided they maintain health protocols.

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Limited access for such a long time

The news that Panama is opening its borders will be cause for celebration for some. The country had barred transit passengers and foreign tourists for the past four months. A decree was passed in March for the closing of borders, which meant that from 23:59 local time on March 22nd, all international flights were postponed.

Since then, Panama has only opened entry for repatriation flights. This was authorized back on April 30th as a humanitarian response and was operated mainly by Copa Airlines.

However, though some freedoms have been awarded to certain travelers, Panama is still cautious about a full reopening. Passengers will still be expected to complete a 14-day quarantine upon arrival.

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Panama City
With restrictions in some provinces, Panama is not yet ready for full-on tourism. Photo: Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz) via Wikimedia Commons

When will Panama open again?

Panama is still maintaining restrictions in individual provinces, which means that it is not yet ready for reopening to the international public. That said, it has taken strict measures to ensure that the country can control the outbreak.

Anyone outside of their home must wear a mask, and rigorous testing has ensured that the government stays on top of cases. With a population of 4.17m, Panama has confirmed 66,383 cases of coronavirus with a 2.2% mortality rate. While efforts are being taken to control the outbreak, the Panamanian government is taking a better safe than sorry approach.

International flights were expected to restart on July 22nd; however, that has since been postponed for a further month.

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