Update: Chile now open to vaccinated visitors, dropping quarantine requirement
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Editor’s note: This story was updated with new details on Oct. 12, 2021.
A week after officially reopening to international vaccinated visitors on Oct. 1, Chile has also decided to drop the previously required five-day quarantine.
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Chile reopened on Oct. 1, quarantine to be lifted Nov. 1
“Starting Nov. 1, the 5-day isolation period that was announced last month will no longer be mandatory for travelers who are fully vaccinated, validate their vaccination status, and receive a negative PCR test in Chile (upon arrival) that yields negative results,” the Chile Tourism Board said via email while noting that the other requirements announced on Sept. 16 as part of the country’s four-step opening plan, including a traveler’s form and a negative test prior to travel, will remain in place.
Until Nov. 1, visitors will be expected to adhere to a five-day quarantine, to be completed at a location of their choice, be it a home or hotel, during which the U.S. Embassy says you should expect to be subject to random PCR or antigen testing. If you were to test positive, you would be transferred to a sanitary residence. Failure to comply with such would result in a monetary fine and voiding of your Mobility Pass.
From Nov. 1, visitors can skip quarantine by taking a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival to the country. More details can be found via Chile Tourism.
COVID-19 vaccine requirement
Proof of vaccination is necessary to obtain a Mobility Pass issued by the Chilean Ministry of Health, which will allow you to move freely around the country by showing digital proof of vaccination, which may be requested to enter certain establishments. Those who travel to Chile without an approved pass will be forced to isolate for seven days.
Additionally, all visitors to Chile, regardless of age, will need to show results of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to departing for Chile. Note that the 72-hour period begins from the time the test is administered, not from the time that results are returned, per the U.S. Embassy in Chile. Lastly, travelers must complete an online Traveler’s Sworn Statement form within 48 hours of boarding and provide documentation of travel insurance with a minimum of $30,000 to cover medical expenses related to COVID-19.
Finally, all travelers are expected to respond daily to a health follow-up form from the Chilean government via email for their first 14 days in Chile.
The Chilean Health Department is currently accepting several vaccines as valid proof of vaccination and to obtain the Mobility Pass, specifically:
- Johnson & Johnson.
- Sputnik V.
Chile COVID-19 management
After closing its borders to nonessential travel in March 2020, Chile briefly reopened for five months on Nov. 23, before shutting back down in April this year due to a rise in COVID-19 cases. The South American nation has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, with 87% of its population fully vaccinated, according to data from the Chilean Ministry of Health, which has been diligent in maintaining pandemic-related restrictions. Face masks remain mandatory throughout the country, including in tourist accommodations, populated areas, on public roads and on both public and private transportation, in addition to the continuation of social distancing measures.
Restaurants and cafes are open, though certain ones are restricted to Mobility Pass holders, according to the Chilean government.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s travel health notice for Chile is Level 3: High Level of COVID-19 and the U.S. Department of State’s travel advisory is Level 3: Reconsider Travel, due to COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, Chile had maintained relatively low levels of COVID-19 until April 2020, before recording nearly 70,000 cases in one week in June, according to data from the World Health Organization. Cases tapered down throughout fall 2020, before slightly increasing again at the start of this year, and then spiking back up April-June. Case numbers have steadily decreased since mid-June with a slight uptick at the end of September. The country recorded just over 3,500 cases for the week ending Oct. 4.
How to get there
“Chile is ready to welcome travelers from around the world beginning on October 1st after over a year and a half with closed borders and restrictions. The modification of the country’s Protected Borders Plan will allow entry to all fully vaccinated non-resident foreigners who meet the requirements,” the tourism board said in a press statement. “Visitors will be able to enter through dedicated airports in Santiago, Iquique or Antofagasta.”
Commercial flights are currently operating from the U.S. to Santiago (SCL), Iquique (IQQ) and Antofagasta (ANF).
Based on a test search, flights are currently available in mid-November to Santiago (SCL) on major U.S. carriers including American and United.
The below flight on Amerian Airlines departing Washington, D.C. (DCA), to Santiago on Nov. 15 would cost you just under $1,000 round-trip for an economy fare. There are stops on both legs of the trip, as to be expected when flying to Chile, particularly from the East Coast.
The same flight would cost you anywhere from 62,500-72,000 AAdvantage miles for a trip in mid-November, and between 95,500 and 120,000 miles for premium economy or $850 in cash to upgrade to premium economy, which grants a wider seat with more legroom, two free checked bags and priority boarding.
Budget-friendly Copa and LATAM Airlines Group also offer cheaper flights, including the below round-trip flight for $566 from LAX to Santiago Nov. 6-15. Bonus points for the first leg of this flight being nonstop.
This flight is for LATAM’s economy cabin, which includes carry-on baggage only but all LATAM international flights over seven hours include breakfast, lunch and dinner. Daytime flights exceeding 10 hours and those longer than 14 also include snacks.
Where to stay
Not that I can speak from personal experience, but a search of Chile hotels yielded some properties that look pretty spectacular, including the W Santiago, The Singular Santiago, Lastarria Hotel, Hotel Santa Cruz, Dreams hotel in Patagonia and Hotel Cabana del Lago in Puerto Varas.
Marriott Bonvoy members could book a king room at the five-star W property in Santiago for a week stay in mid-November for 205,000 points, or 127,000 points plus $980 in cash.
If you’re planning more of a backpacking, adventure-seeking trip, TPG’s video director Tom Grahsler recommends Hostal Las Natalias in the northern Patagonia region.
“Owned by a lovely couple, it’s effectively a guest house right off Rio Espolon,” he said. “One of my favorite places I’ve ever stayed. Great for kicking off rafting trips.”
Along the same lines, Aldea Naukana in Pucon is “also extremely dope” for “higher-end backpacker adventure stuff.” Note that it’s more of a pousada (hostel/inn) than a hotel.
Elsewhere in Patagonia, TPG senior reporter David Slotnick recommends Explora, which boasts “hyper-expensive all-inclusive luxury lodges” across six properties, including one on Easter Island (also known as Rapa Nui or Isla de Pascua). Slotnick says it’s “one of the most isolated vacation destinations you can get to by commercial air,” perfect for hiking, landscapes, history and archaeology lovers. Rates at this property start at a whopping $926 per night if you are looking to treat yourself.
Featured photo of Vina del Mar, Chile, courtesy of the Chile Tourism Board.
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