Chile closes border again, tightens lockdown as COVID-19 cases surge

Apr 3, 2021

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information as of April 3, 2021.

The South American country of Chile announced on April 1 it has once again closed its borders and tightened its lockdown as the number of COVID-19 cases tops 1 million. According to the CDC, Chile is at a Level 4 travel advisory which means that there are very high levels of the virus in the destination.

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Chile has closed its borders again

As even-more contagious coronavirus variants surge in Chile, the decision has been made to once again close borders for a month as of April 5 and tighten the current lockdown restrictions. Despite “one of the world’s fastest vaccination rates,” according to Reuters, COVID-19 cases have topped 1 million. Hospitals have warned they are nearing capacity.

Previously, before traveling to Chile, visitors needed to take the following steps:

  • As of January 7, nationals, residents, and tourists were required to present a negative RT-PCR test, performed a maximum of 72 hours before boarding a flight.
  • Complete the online “Health Passport” declaration registration form beginning 48 hours before arrival
  • Fly into Arturo Merino Benitez Airport in Santiago (SCL)
  • Provide proof of health insurance that covers coronavirus
  • If your final destination is outside of the Santiago metro area, you had up to 24 hours to continue on to your final destination before beginning quarantine.
  • Certain local comunas (neighborhoods) had a 24-hour quarantine and incoming passengers should avoid those areas.
  • If you had been in the UK for the last 14 days, you were not permitted to enter unless you are a Chilean citizen or legal foreign resident.

As of January 26, 2021, all passengers returning to the U.S. were required to take a COVID-19 test within three calendar days of travel.

What you need to know about visiting Chile

santiago chile
Photo of Santiago, Chile (Photo by Jose Luis Stephens / Getty Images)

If you’re thinking of heading south to this beautiful country, you’ll need to change your plans. The border has been fully closed to tourists, and Chileans and foreign residents will only be permitted to enter if it’s an emergency.

Previously, tourists were permitted to enter but required to quarantine for 10 days, agree to be monitored and accept contact tracing, and masks were required where directed. Travelers were required to follow local health guidance and COVID-19 testing was available at both public hospitals, private hospitals and clinics at your own expense or through your insurance provider.

Parts of Chile have tightened strict guidelines, including evening curfews, under the latest spike in cases. You can find more information on those restrictions here.

Travelers were required to alert the Chilean government if they wanted to travel between regions. According to the U.S. embassy in Chile, travel to or from areas under quarantine required a written authorization obtained from the local Chilean police. Travel between regions without mandatory quarantines still required a written authorization and health certification. Tourists were required to visit this online portal or the nearest police station to follow this process.

The country also remains closed to cruise ships. There is hope, however, that when tourists are once again welcomed back it could also mean an eventual restart to Antarctic cruising from Chile.

Last November, Chile became the first Latin American country to trial a digital health pass for American Airlines customers. The airline and the Chilean government partnered to offers customers access to VeriFLY,  an app available for Apple and Google smartphone users designed to make traveling between Miami and Chile easier by allowing customers to digitally store documentation and test results.

Related: A country-by-country guide to reopening borders around the world

Many of its regions are facing an even tighter lockdown. As of April 3, the CDC reports that the Ministry of Health has confirmed 1,003,406 cases of COVID-19 in Chile. There is also a nationwide curfew from 10:00 pm to 5:00 am.

Getting to Chile

When the time comes to visit Chile once again, many airlines fly to Santiago (SCL). They include United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and LATAM.

Related: Best ways to get to Chile on points and miles

Previously, I found flights to Santiago from Miami on American Airlines ranging from $650 to $1,001 in main cabin or $1,117-$1,466 for premium economy (on the Boeing 777 or Dreamliner). Prices from Los Angeles and New York via Miami were similar.

Related: How Chile’s new airport was built to survive even the worst quakes

The same flight using miles would cost you 87,000 American Airlines miles plus $47.55. Unfortunately, that’s an AA web special fare, so be sure to know the rules and restrictions before booking. The same flight in business would run you 345,000 miles (!) in business class or 107,000 miles in premium economy.  TPG reporter Chris Dong and I were both able to book business class flights to Santiago for just 83,000 AA miles and $53 back in April, so there are better deals available on this route.

(Screenshot courtesy American Airlines)
April web special fare on NYC to SCL. (Screenshot courtesy American Airlines)

Related: Dreaming of Patagonia

Delta resumed direct flights from Atlanta to Santiago in January. Prices from New York via Atlanta or direct from Atlanta were as low as $672 for basic economy or $911 for “Premium Select.”  A mileage ticket in coach runs 50,000 Delta SkyMiles plus $53 in cash. Delta One would cost you 325,000 Delta miles plus $53.

(Screenshot courtesy Delta Air Lines)

where to stay in Chile

There are a ton of great hotel options in Santiago including plenty of high-end options such as the Ritz-Carlton, Intercontinental, Mandarin Oriental, Marriott, Sheraton and many more.

Related: Spending time in Santiago

One of the best deals I found back in January was for $199 a night for the Ritz. If you want to use points, redemptions start at 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night. There are ton of Marriott Bonvoy options in Santiago, though, beginning at $72 per night for the Four Points and going up to $223 per night for the W.

(Screenshot courtesy Marriott)
W Santiago’s E WOW Suite. (Photo courtesy of Marriott)

You could stay at the Courtyard Santiago Las Condes for as few as 12,500 Bonvoy points per night.

(Screenshot courtesy Marriott)

If you are a Hyatt fanatic, there are two options. The Hyatt Centric Las Condes is $105 a night or 15,000 World of Hyatt points. Or you could stay at the Hyatt Place in Vitacura for $85 a night or 8,000 points.

The Intercontinental didn’t have a ton of availability last we checked, but I found a few nights for $111 or 10,000 IHG points and $62/night. The other IHG option is the Crowne Plaza for $86/night or 7,500 IHG points and $30/night if you want to use cash and points.

For Hilton fans, there’s the DoubleTree Santiago Vitacura for 23,000 Hilton Honors points or $90/night in cash.

overview of visiting Chile

Tourists are currently not welcome to visit Chile. Coronavirus is still a Level 4 according to the CDC as cases surge. The continued vaccine rollout means we’ll hopefully be back in Chile sooner rather than later. And when the time comes, deals can be found.

Our state-by-state guide to American re-openings is here.

Additional reporting by Adrienne Jordan

Featured photo by Jose Luis Stephens/Getty Images

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