For the United States and large Latin American countries, progress on containing the virus and reopening economies has been spotty. With absolute infection rates mostly down from peak levels, governments are looking to ease some restrictions, including those limiting commercial airline flights. The effect of those changes will be minimal, according to WorldAware.

The U.S. federal government this month stopped requiring incoming international flights to land at one of 15 designated airports, which handle most inbound international flights anyway. The United States continues to ban non-resident foreign nationals who in the previous 14 days had been in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Europe’s Schengen area, China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) and Iran, “even though some of those areas have fewer Covid-19 infections per capita than the United States,” said WorldAware intelligence manager Michael Baney during a briefing posted Sept. 17.

Many U.S. states and local municipalities require or encourage quarantines for those coming in from certain other states. Enforceability varies. Some states are making changes essentially in lockstep — notably New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. 

Baney pointed out a few other examples. Though Illinois doesn’t have a list of states from which incoming travelers must quarantine, the city of Chicago does, and it’s legally enforceable. Philadelphia has more states on its list than Pennsylvania. In both cases, the advisory is not enforceable.

As for virus spread, Midwestern states now are the hardest hit. Northeastern states have among the lowest infection rates. Once a hotspot, Arizona last week reported one-tenth the number of infections at its peak. California is down from its peak, too, but not as dramatically. 

Land borders between the United States and both Canada and Mexico remain closed to all but essential travel.

Mexico never banned international flights. Though the country’s Covid risk rating in most states went from red (the most severe) to orange, non-essential businesses continue to operate at reduced capacity. According to Baney, Mexico has a “spectacularly low rate of testing” and among the world’s highest fatality rates. It is “flying blind due to a lack of good data,” he said.

Brazil kept land borders closed but lifted flight restrictions. “Non-resident foreign nationals who fly in must prove they have health insurance and must leave within 90 days,” Baney said. 

Non-essential business activity in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo remains limited, but according to Baney, Brazil’s federal government “remains committed to prioritizing the economy over public health.”

That’s not the case in Chile, where officials take a “technocratic approach,” Baney said. As of last week, non-resident foreign nationals could not enter the country. A nationwide curfew was still in effect and residents older than 75 were asked to stay home at all times. A “sanitary passport” system requires those moving about the country to present a completed form at checkpoints. “You could be turned back or forced to undergo a medical exam,” Baney explained.

He said Chile’s Covid infections remained “stubbornly high,” with the Santiago region “particularly hard hit.”

In Peru, where deaths per capita are among the highest in the world, the international flight ban will end in October, “however, we expect flights will be quite limited,” Baney said.

Formerly known as iJet, WorldAware in July was acquired by GardaWorld Security.

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