The photo above is the Amador Causeway in Panama City. The bridge that you see in the background is the Bridge of the Americas. Ships go under that bridge to enter the Panama Canal from the Pacific side.
Panama’s borders are still closed to tourists. However, on July 31st President Cortizo announced that he would allow commercial flights to come in to Panama for Panamanians OR foreigners who have a permanent residency Visa. It’s a baby step but at least it is moving in the right direction.
It’s really way too soon for tourists to come to Panama until the economy opens up more.
Those who do to come in to Panama will need to either present a negative covid test 48 hours before arriving or take an antigen test upon arriving. And they will need to self-quarantine in their home for 14 days. Luckily it is easy to get groceries or restaurant food delivered so it’s not necessary to leave your home during the 14-day quarantine.
Panama is still in a lock down situation. In Panama City and Panama Oeste (west of Panama City), they have a very strict quarantine where women can only go out on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for two hours corresponding to the last number on their passport and men can only go out two hours on Tuesday or Thursday. There is a total quarantine on Saturday and Sunday. But as you can see from the beach photo on the right, it’s not such a bad place to be in quarantine!
However, in most of Panama there is only a curfew from 7pm to 5pm on weekdays. In Chiriqui province where I live, on the far western side of Panama, we are free to go out any time between 5am and 7pm and we can travel anywhere in our province.
Throughout most of Panama, we only have a limited number of essential stores open like grocery stores, banks, pharmacies, gas stations and hardware stores. Some restaurants are open but only for take-out or home delivery.
To try to prevent the spread of the Covid virus, we are not permitted to travel outside of the province where we live. But I frequently see photos of people driving from Panama City to the beach areas on Friday. This is the reason that Panama City and Panama Oeste have such high virus number.
THE GOOD NEWS — the southern tip of the Azuero Peninsula, the Los Santos province, has had the least number of cases of any province in Panama. The secret to their success is that they put up a strict sanitary fence and would not allow anyone from other provinces to come in. Because they have had so few cases, they have been able to open up more economic activity there.
Hopefully the rest of Panama will be able to open up more of their economy soon too. Panamanians are resourceful people. Many of those who have not been able to go back to work yet have started little side business like selling tamales, empanadas, muffins, honey or eggs. Some have started grocery delivery or car wash services.
REPLAY Q & A CONFERENCE CALL
Since Panama closed it’s borders in March, we have been hosting a weekly conference calls to keep you informed about what life is like in Panama. Sometimes we interview someone who lives in Panama and sometimes we do a Q & A Conference call. Listen to the replay of the Q & A Conference Call we did on August 8th.