What do we know now? As you might know most of the information on the situation in Chile and also in Santiago is in Spanish so you might wanna know what’s going on at the moment.
What you need to know
Chile’s policy on COVID-19 has been ever since the first quarter of 2020 to close its borders to non resident foreigners. Only Chileans and foreign residents are allowed with a quarantine period of 2 weeks. All this information is sourced from gob.cl/coronavirus and local news.
How’s Chile dealing with COVID-19?
This is an ongoing event so I’ll probably be modifying this part over time but so far we have several cases of COVID-19. Ministry of Health reports 471,746 cases (Santiago Region has 288,628) as of October 5th, 2020. However, there have been improvements and many cities have been released out of quarantine. Southern regions like Araucanía (where Temuco Pucon, Villarrica belong) or Magallanes (Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales, Torres del Paine) are under new outbreaks of COVID-19 which have been recently discovered.
The economic aspect is also relevant. Chile like many other countries is under recession and LATAM has been struggling and filed Chapter 11 in the United States Nevertheless, it continues its operation in Chile (it closed its Argentinian branch) and fired 1,400 people here. The other airlines are operating but under special conditions. There are still national flights in Chile to some areas. Also, in the earlier months of the pandemic the government had to start supplying food to most citizens through the “Alimentos para Chile” campaign and started the IFE program. A bill was also approved to withdraw 10% (in many cases way more) from their pension funds.
We don’t know when borders will re-open
This is the most important issue for many travelers right now. In Chile borders were closed and there’s no date of reopening. Although it’s been discussed the reopening will probably be region wise as it’s been stated by Prosur.
Even if you can get in… you can’t move freely
Even if you could get to Chile and borders were open Chile is using a model of confinement at the commune level. This model involves phases for returning to normal life which depend entirely on the judgement of the Ministry of Health. This rolling back of confinment is called Paso a Paso and it has a huge impact in daily life, here a quick summary:
- Quarantine: Going out warrants a permission
- Transition: People are allowed to go out during weekdays but they need a permit during the weekend
- Preparation: People are allowed to stay out without permits. Restaurants can open with tables in terraces or in the street if allowed by the authority. Kids can go to school if authorized by the Ministry of Health. You can travel at this stage to other areas in this stage or better
- Initial opening: Bars & restaurants can open with tables inside. People can participate in small meetings (from 50 indoors to 100 outdoors)
- Advanced opening: People can join larger meetings (from 100 to 200). Gyms can open at a 50% of their capacity. Pubs, clubs and related at 50% and restaurants at a 75% of their capacity.
This means that even if you are in Chile you can’t move freely and even if you did it anyway you couldn’t do most activities because they’d be closed.
Apart from very important political concerns like the referendum, Chilean authorities are worried about COVID-19 outbreaks across the world which are known as “second waves“. This is important because there’s nothing clear about the reopening and personally I think this also has a lot to do with improvements at a national level. It’s October and Santiago isn’t under quarantine but since it’s a commune evaluation (not a regional or city assesment since there’s no central Santiago authority) and that changes every week, chances are some communes will go back to lock down or more restrictive phases.
So TL;DR: Don’t be overtly optimistic or make serious date fixed plans on travelling to Chile because we just don’t know what’s gonna happen.