Given the favourable results that the Magallanes Region, extreme south of Chile is showing in its battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, Chilean authorities have decided to lessen the restrictions both for incoming domestic and international travellers arriving at Punta Arenas airport.
As of November first Chilean travellers will not have to comply with the five-day quarantine and international travellers, until now banned, will be received at a special wing of the airport.
The announcement was made by Deputy Economy minister Julio Pertuzé, the region's presidential representative Jennifer Rojas and Punta Arenas mayor, Claudio Radonich.
Not only as of November first are we eliminating the five-day quarantine for those travellers on domestic flights who test negative for PCR, but also Punta Arenas joins Iquique, Antofagasta and Santiago in receiving international tourists. This is a historic opportunity for Punta Arenas to become the capital and gateway for Antarctica, both for tourism and scientific research. We estimate this opening for international tourists will represent over US$ 60 million to the local economy, said deputy minister Pertuzé.
The decision follows strong lobbying from tourism entrepreneur Tania Pivcevic, who belongs to AustroChile, who had pointed out that the five-day quarantine was a punishment for visitors and only kept potential travellers away.
This together with strong arguments from local sanitary officials helped to change the Protected Frontiers policy by eliminating the quarantine and demanding PCR negative results testing in Chile.
However, despite the enthusiasm and support for the measure, the Punta Arenas tourism lobby is also anxious to see how the PCR tests will finally work at the airport or if they might collapse with a too large unexpected influx of travellers. We still have to check the fine letter of the decree.