News highlights and summary (August 17, 2020):
Panama has been under quarantine for 5 months, but it looks like the reopening of the country and economy are on the horizon. Unfortunately, during these times much of what tomorrow holds is very much up in the air when it comes to Panama due to indecision and lack of strategic planning. Here’s the news:
As of Aug 17, the country will begin the next phase of reopening the economy, but there is no modification to the stay at home order which only permits people to leave their home for 2 hours a day, 3 days a week. [CNN]
The movement restrictions are still in effect even as the economy reopens, but authorities have been pleaded to to review this policy in light of the continued economic hardship this causes [TVN]
Tocumen international airport is in operation for connecting flights via Panama, but as of Aug 21 the airport will reopen to accept travelers to Panama. The first round of flights will only be available for Panamanians and Residents to enter Panama. The date for tourism has not been made available at this time.
In order to travel to Panama, you will need to present a negative Covid test result or antibody test at your airport of boarding. This test result must not be more than 48 hours old. [source]
On August 16, the Panamanian Ministry of Health confirmed 81,940 cases of COVID-19 in Panama. [US Embassy]
As of July 5, no plan has been established for the reopening of international tourism in Panama. The Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) has delayed and presented no plan based on their dependency on other state agencies. https://www.laestrella.com.pa/economia/200507/sector-turistico-alerta-falta-plan-reactivacion-post-covid-19
As of June 17, the order for all yachts, boats, or other aquatic vessels may not depart from any private or public docks for purposes of sport fishing, tourism, or recreation maintains in effect until further notice. https://www.tvn-2.com/nacionales/Salida-quedan-supeditadas-nuevas-condiciones_0_5604189544.html
With no real end in sight to the economic effects of this pandemic, the Tourism Authority announced that it would be focusing 80% of its efforts on domestic tourism in the short term to stimulate this sector. During this period, the ATP hopes to strengthen the operators and providers within the tourism sector to better provide for international clients once the borders fully reopen. https://www.atp.gob.pa/atp-pone-en-marcha-plan-estrategico-post-covid-19/
The ATP announced that the first international tourists it will expect and plan for are from the neighboring countries of Costa Rica and Colombia but in addition to planning for Americans as well. With this statement, Panama is one of the few countries it appears to be already aiming and expecting the reentry of Americans where other countries are rejecting the US passport. https://www.atp.gob.pa/turismo-al-aire-libre-y-con-distanciamiento-social-2/
With no firm reopening plan laid out by the government, hotels and the like are in limbo as to what to expect post-covid. With over 35,000 employees in this sub-sector, many of these providers could be closing their doors for good. The hotel options and hospitality market may be looking very different post-covid with fewer options. http://www.panama24horas.com.pa/panama/apatel-solicita-fecha-para-reapertura-del-turismo-panameno/
The hotel industry is reporting $40 million in losses every month as this pandemic drags on with a lack of strategic planning from the government or protocols that the businesses will need to follow. https://www.prensa.com/impresa/economia/hoteles-reportan-perdida-de-40-millones-al-mes-por-covid/
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