A tiny country on a slip of land connecting two large continents, Panama is not only at the crossroads between North and South America, but also between fast-paced cosmopolitan life and traditional cultures, modernity and history, sun-drenched terrain and mysterious rainforest.

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It is a unique country that rewards exploration, bringing together many diverse sights and sensations, all within 30,000 square miles. Consider Panama as the perfect adventure option for the true travellers among your clients, especially those who are strapped for time.

Can you travel to Panama?

Panama reopened its borders to international travellers in October 2020, but since December 22, travellers who have been in the UK (or South Africa) in the 20 days prior to their visit cannot enter Panama.

The UK government has also banned arrivals from Panama due to a new variant of coronavirus identified in Brazil. The country is on the ‘red list’, meaning any British and Irish nationals or those with UK citizenship returning to the UK must enter a government-approved quarantine hotel for 10 days on arrival.

How can you reach Panama?

The airport began its reopening in August and airlines are organising their flights to Panama. The schedules will be updated when they are confirmed. The airlines flying to Panama from Europe before the lockdown were: Air France, Lufthansa, KLM, Iberia and Air Europa.

Are cruise ports open in Panama?

Cruise ports and other port operators were due to restart operations in the second half of 2020. However most cruise lines that operate in or have transit through Panama come from the US or Europe, so there is no further update on when cruise arrivals will resume.

How is Panama planning to reopen to tourism?

For biosecurity, health and sanitation standards and requirements, the Panama Tourism Authority has been working with the relevant industry experts to develop guidelines, with previous approval from the Ministry of Health and immigration authorities to ensure that our protocols meet international standards.

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This is to ensure it is adhering to the safety and security of international visitors and locals and continuing to properly develop the tourism sector.

We have already compiled safe travel protocols with the World Travel & Tourism Council that allow travellers to use common standard protocols among different countries.

The Panama Tourism Authority has proposed a plan to reopen tourism in the country that includes different phases:

  • Phase one proposes that tours be allowed in protected natural areas such as trails, mountains, beaches and all sports activities alongside the revival of tourist guides’ services.

  • Phase two proposes the reopening of airports, hotels and travel agencies as well as tour operators. The approval of economic measures will allow the maintenance of tourist infrastructure.

  • Subsequent phases may allow activities such as meetings, events and conferences with a capacity of 60%.

These proposals are subject to the Ministry of Health’s approval.

What safety measures are in place for travellers in Panama?

As part of our biosafety protocols, it is our duty to ensure the safety of travellers as much as possible. We have developed hygiene and sanitation protocols for each tourism activity that travellers can find on our website.

On arrival into Panama, travellers should complete a sworn declaration. They must declare any symptoms in previous days or if they have been in contact with someone with symptoms of Covid-19 or similar.

Temperature screenings will remain a regular part of security protocols. No measures for quarantine or further testing are being considered at the moment for visitors to the country.

Wearing a face mask is required at all times when interacting with others, except if a person remains solely within their own ‘social bubble’, meaning people who live together or are travelling together as a family.

Otherwise, if there are social interactions with other travellers, it is essential to follow the health and sanitation guidelines of social distancing (two metres between people and maintaining proper hand-washing practices, wearing face masks and avoiding touching one’s face).

Taxis are advised to use natural ventilation at all times and ensure appropriate hygiene and sanitation measures for passengers and drivers. The Ministry of Health suggests physical distancing within the taxi.

At the moment, shops, museums, restaurants and bars are not open. As our curve has not yet flattened, reopening dates are yet to be determined.

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PICTURES: ATTA/Hassen Salum; ATTA/Border Free Travels

Last updated February 15, 2021