The government will open Argentina’s borders to welcome tourists from neighbouring countries this summer, Tourism & Sports Minister Matías Lammens said Saturday.
"The national government has taken the decision to open the borders to receive tourists from neighbouring countries. In principle, [entry] will be by air, through the Ezeiza [international] airport and by sea through the port of Buenos Aires," the minister told Radio Mitre in an interview.
Lammens, the former president of the San Lorenzo football club, said that "the conditions are in place so that tourists can come to Argentina, in this new stage where we have to live with the virus."
He did not specify a specific date for the reopening of borders to tourists. Summer vacation season in Argentina normally begins in mid-December.
"The decision implies an important [amount of] income for our economy and i[t’s] one more stage in this pandemic to turn the page, without abandoning the fight against the virus that has us in full battle," said Lammens.
Argentina’s tourism industry, as with vacation-based businesses across the world, has suffered a catastrophic fall in activity amid the coronavirus pandemic. Normally, such activity accounts for around 10 percent of GDP.
Regarding health protocols, Lammens said Saturday that tourists from Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay would not have to comply with a mandatory quarantine period upon arrival in Argentina.
However, prior to arrival, they will be asked “for a PCR test [result] to have a degree of security.” The minister added that temperature checks will also be carried out to ensure visitors do not have a fever, and that tourists would be asked to sign “an affidavit," presumably indicating they have not been infected with Covid-19 to their knowledge.
Argentina’s borders have been closed since March 20, when President Alberto Fernández ordered a nationwide lockdown to tackle the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country. Many restrictions have since been loosened, though the extent of the measures differ from province to province.
Domestic flights – currently restricted to essential workers, reasons of force majeure and those needing medical treatment – restarted last week after seven months of suspension.
Last week, the Buenos Aires Province government authorised the opening of resorts on the Atlantic coast under strict health protocols.
"We are going to have a summer season and for that we are going to have to take good care of ourselves. We are working with each of the provinces to implement a very strong plan with the national government, to avoid contagion and the saturation of the health system," said Lammens.
To date, Argentina has recorded close to 1.1 million infections since the start of the pandemic, with more than 28,000 fatalities registered to date.