In a general relaxing – or talking about relaxing – of the Covid rules we’re seeing around Central America, Panama last week quietly abandoned its plan to recognize three vaccines instead of two as “fully-vaccinated”.
Last month, Panama announced that from February 12, only travelers entering the country with proof of a booster jab against Covid would be classified as “fully-vaccinated”.
Anyone with two shots (or one, in the case of Johnson & Johnson) would have to go through the same protocols to enter Panama as unvaccinated travelers. This means presenting a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours before travel.
The government then pushed back the February 12 date to February 20. Then, last week, it confirmed it would continue recognizing two vaccines as “fully-vaccinated”.
Both vaccinated and non-vaccinated travelers can enter Panama.
Vaccinated travelers coming from “non-high risk” countries only need to show proof of full vaccination (two shots, or one in the case of Johnson & Johnson), and they’re home free in Panama.
Unvaccinated or partially-vaccinated travelers must show proof of a negative test taken within 72 hours before travel.
Vaccinated travelers coming from what Panama deems as “high risk” countries (or who have been in said high risk countries in the 15 days before arriving in Panama) must also present a negative Covid test with their proof of vaccination.
Unvaccinated travelers who’ve been in a “high risk” country must present a negative test and quarantine 72 hours (three days). Panamanian citizens and residents can quarantine at home, while tourists must quarantine in an authorized Panama City hotel (at their own cost).
After 72 hours, they must take another test. If negative, they can carry on with the plans. If positive, they must undergo a 10-day quarantine in an authorized “hotel-hospital”.
As it stands, Panama’s “high-risk” countries are: Cayman Islands, Barbados, Anguilla, Bonaire, Greece, Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Serbia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Hungary, Faroe Islands, Ireland, Montenegro, Croatia, Netherlands, Slovakia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Armenia, Ukraine, Georgia, United Kingdom, Germany, South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.
This list of countries has remained consistent for a while, but can change at any time. Keep up with Panama’s entry rules by bookmarking this link to Tourism Panama.
The latest entry requirements and restrictions for Central America, updated to include the mandatory insurance required to enter Belize. How do the countries of Central America compare with each other for ease of entry for tourists right now?https://t.co/ws988F8Jv6
— Central America Living (@VidaAmerica) February 17, 2022
Panama dropping the proposed extra restriction to recognize triple-vaccinated as fully-vaccinated is part of a welcome pattern we’re seeing around the region and the world.
In November, El Salvador dropped all testing and vaccine entry restrictions, and last month Costa Rica abandoned the Health Pass. (Although this was more about cutting down waiting times at airport immigration than anything else).
Costa Rica has also been making noises about dropping most Covid restrictions by the time the current administration leaves office in May.
Across the world, especially in Europe, many countries have implemented – or have announced – an end to all Covid restrictions.
Some countries, though, have bucked recent trends, and added more restrictions.
Belize recently added a mandatory travel health insurance for visitors, and Guatemala banned non-vaccinated travelers from entering the country.
Like the rest of Central America, Panama’s Covid case numbers are dropping.
The mildness of the Omicron variant plus Panama’s 73% vaccination rate (including partially-vaccinated) make it easier for them to start easing up on some restrictions. Right now, there are no curfews in place, and businesses are open for everyone.