Panama reopened its air borders on Monday to allow the arrival of international flights with tourists, with a plane from Miami, United States, after keeping them closed for seven months due to the covid-19 pandemic.
The first 157 passengers, including 38 tourists, were greeted with Panamanian flags and typical dances at the Tocumen international airport, 15 kilometers northeast of Panama City.
“My boyfriend lives here, I have not been able to see him in a year. We had planned to travel in March but everything was closed, so it took us seven months to meet,” the Californian tourist Chelsy told AFP.
“We booked the first flight we could because we have been waiting for the borders to open for months and we are very excited,” Kate Davini, also a US tourist, told AFP.
The flight from Miami is the first to arrive in the Central American country after the closure of its air border on March 22.
“Today (Monday) Panama restarts its international operations taking a fundamental step for regional connectivity,” said the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA) on its Twitter account.
“It is a day of hope for Panama,” said President Laurentino Cortizo.
The president participated, at the Tocumen airport, in the christening ceremony of a plane of the Panamanian company Copa.
Until this Monday, Panama allowed the arrival of international flights in scale, but without allowing its passengers to enter the country.
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Tourists entering the country must bring a negative covid-19 certificate or take a test at the same airport, the result of which is delivered in half an hour.
If you test positive for covid-19, the person must comply with the biosafety protocols decreed by the Ministry of Health.
In these first dates, Tocumen will attend 80 daily operations, compared to the 400 that were carried out in March.
For now, daily flights will be to 36 destinations in America and Europe with 7 airlines, although three other airlines could restart operations before the end of the year.
With four million inhabitants, Panama has the highest number of infections in Central America by covid-19, with more than 120,000 infected and 2,491 deaths.
jjr / mas / lda