For coronavirus (COVID-19) travel information, see our FAQ.

Panama Covid Update November 2020

boquete panama clouds

Compared to other Latin American countries, Panama has done an amazing job of fighting Covid-19.  They are doing more testing per capita than any other country in Central or South America.

It’s true that Panama has had some severe lockdown and prevention measures but that has helped keep the number of deaths low and prevented hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.  From the beginning, their objective has been to identify those who test positive (even with no symptoms) so they could isolate those people to prevent them from infecting others.  When someone does test positive, Panama has an aggressive contact tracing plan to notify everyone they came in to contact with so they can isolate too.

Currently, the only restrictions are that everyone must wear a mask in public and in stores.  There is a curfew from 11 pm to 5 am.  Some businesses are still closed but most are open.  Restaurants offer dine-in service with less capacity.

For several months, the number of new cases per day was down to 500-600 per day. Then the November holidays started and the number of new cases jumped to 1000 new cases per day. I think this is because of the many parties during the holidays. Panamanians love their parties and family gatherings.. despite Covid.  Panama recently issued new guidelines that family gatherings or parties cannot be more than 10 people.   The highest number of cases are in Panama City and just west of Panama City. These are both areas with a very high density.

I really think the numbers will start going BACK DOWN by the end of November because no one in Panama wants to go back to having restrictions as indicated in the Contingency Plan below.


The Contingency Plan is divided into four indicators, seven pillars, and five alert stages.

casca viejo view to new panama

Indicators –

– Rt of 1 or less (this is the transmission rate)
– Lethality less than 3% (% of people who die from Covid)
– Availability of beds in room 20%
– Availability of beds in ICU of 15%

Pillars – these are carried out daily through press releases, Facebook posts, Twitter feeds, and daily news reports.

– Promotion and prevention
– Traceability
– Treatment to affected
– Isolation and distancing
– Installed capacity
– Gradual return
– Social care

Alert stages

– Overflow of one of the 4 indicators for the opening
– Overflow of one of the indicators for opening
– Overflow of two of the indicators for opening
– Overflow of three of the indicators for opening
– Overflow of the four indicators for opening

Measures to be taken before the arrival of each alert stage

If there is an overflow of one of the 4 indicators for the opening

– Curfew from 11:00 pm to 5:00 am (As it is currently at the national level, except Veraguas)

Overflow of ONE of the indicators for opening

– The possible taking of restrictions is announced and prevention is intensified
– Traceability is intensified and tests are massed
– The curfew is maintained (could go back to a 7 pm to 5 am curfew)
– Mobility is allowed but with the possibility of restriction

panama mask requirements

Overflow of TWO of the indicators for opening

– A communication plan is maintained with aggressive messages of biosecurity measures
– Checkpoints are strengthened
– Tents and field hospitals are installed
– Quarantine is established on Sundays ( means you cannot leave your house)
– The curfew is extended from 7:00 pm to 5:00 am
– Reopening stops
– Beaches, rivers, and spas are closed
– Meetings are reduced to meetings of no more than 10
– Public employees will have rotating schedules

Overflow of THREE of the indicators for opening

– Communicate closings one week in advance
– Checkpoints increase
– Quarantine is established on weekends
– Extended curfew is maintained
– Only restaurants with home delivery will operate (with a trial every 15 days for motorized ones)
– Online sales businesses will be able to operate, but shopping centers will not
– Construction will be partially closed

Overflow of the FOUR indicators for opening

– Daily communications through conferences
– Sanitary closures and fences
– New facilities are enabled
– Weekend closings are maintained, curfew extended
– Only essential foodservice companies may operate
– The agricultural sector, pharmacies, banks and grocery stores remain open
– Mobility will be by sex and gender
– Tourist activities will be paralyzed
– The entry of people who come from countries with increased cases will be evaluated

Of course, we’ll keep you informed by email and on Facebook about the status of the Covid situation in Panama.  Hopefully, the number start going back down again so we don’t go into a lockdown again.

covid testing to travel to panamaTO ENTER PANAMA

On October 12th, Panama opened Tocumen International Airport to international travelers.  The land borders are still closed.  To fly into Panama, you are required to present a negative Covid PCR or Antigen test that is not more than 72 hours old.  If your test is older than 72 hours, or if you did not get a test, you will be required to take a rapid Covid test for $50 at Tocumen International Airport.

Before you can board your flight to Panama, you must show your completed DIGITAL RIGISTRY HERE.  It can be completed up to 4 days before your flight. Fill out the form in advance because it could take time to get the verification back.

You can see step-by-step instructions for filling out the digital form HERE


This week I got a message from a couple who came to Panama for an exploratory trip. They did not get tested before the flight to Panama. At Tocumen International Airport, she tested positive, so she was taken to a Covid hotel in Panama City. She feels perfectly fine and has no symptoms at all.  He cannot see her or take her suitcase to her. He can’t pay for her to have a private room. She will be retested in 7 days. If she still tests positive again, she will have to stay in the Covid hotel for 14 additional days. Meanwhile, their trip to Panama has been ruined. You don’t want this to happen to you.


While you are in Panama, you will be required to wear a mask everywhere in public and in stores.  Of course, you are allowed to take your mask off while you are eating at a restaurant.  There is also a curfew from 11 pm to 5am currently.

Before you can go into a store or restaurant, they will require you to step in to a disinfectant, apply hand sanitizer and get your temperature taken.

Jackie Lange

Jackie Lange is the founder of Panama Relocation Tours and lives in the highlands of Boquete Panama. She has helped thousands of people relocate to Panama.

Reader Interactions


  1. Regenia Y Frazier says

    I agree with all of the measures you are taking to keep your country safe. The USA could learn a lot from your leadership!!!!! Thank you.

  2. John Dann says

    Hi Jackie
    I am arriving in Panama Nov 18.
    John Dann

    • Jackie Lange says

      John, That’s GREAT news. Enjoy your trip to Panama!

  3. Cynthia L Jennings says

    Jackie, do we print this form and keep it with us? There are no directions on the form as to what to do with it. Also, I’m not able to enter my phone number as they want it. I followed the examples but each time it is rejected.
    Can you tell us what the purpose of this form is? Do we fill out an exit form?

    I leave for Panama on the 18th so have a couple of days to learn what needs to happen. Thanks much

  4. Dorothy says

    Need to get on to conference this evening but accidentally erased it. Would you please forward that message again?

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