International (Europe/Japan/Southern Hemisphere) 2021 Chile Trip Report

Mattadvproject

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G'day guys,
Hope all is well. I thought I'd at least start a (hopeful) Chile trip report for my upcoming trips to Nevados de Chillan in August/September. If the admins need to move this somewhere else, no problem. I figured this would also be a useful place to share updates about skiing in Chile and any important updates re: CVOID and current travel restrictions to Chile so that others may benefit. I'll give the caveat that these are just my thoughts/opinions (plus the opinions of my business partner on the ground in Chile) and this information may not be 100% accurate, so take it with a grain of salt, it's not gospel. Please undertake your own research before making any decisions about travel to South America......

I did start a Facebook page for my potential clients so typically I will just copy and paste here, any major updates I have already shared there. I'm happy to hear other people's thoughts and opinions and answer any questions you might have. Here's a couple of updates I shared recently...... The first is from April 22nd.

"Time for another Chile update...... Ironically I had just written a long update to my guides this afternoon, including an overview of what has been happening and then about an hour later, there has more new (positive) news.

Hopefully most of you were aware that Chile had re-opened their international borders (with restrictions) to foreign travelers back on November 23rd. Condition of entry were further updated on January 7th. By this stage you had to have negative PCR tests taken no more than 72 hours before departure and then undertake a few other formalities to enter Chile.

Nevados de Chillan was able to open up again for their summer season and the chairlifts were spinning for mountain biking. There were restrictions of course, as well as reduced capacity for the local hotels and restaurants. At least they were open as opposed to the non-event of their 2020 winter when the resort stayed closed for the whole season. Things were looking a lot more positive finally.

Unfortunately COVID cases start to rise sharply again in March and worryingly hospitals started to reach occupancy. 80% of Chile had to go into lockdown for almost a month, including the Pinto region where Nevados de Chillan is located. The international borders were closed again for 1 month, on April 5th.
This was somewhat of a surprise as Chile had been doing really well with their COVID vaccination program. They moved early to secure their doses (mostly Pfizer and Sinovax Coronavax from China, both 2-shot regimes) and had one of the highest vaccination rates (per 100 people) in the world. Over 40% of all people had received at least 1 does of the vaccine by April.

So what went wrong? Why have infection rates increased again? Well, testing has shown that the Sinovax vaccine has not performed well at all, compared to the Pfizer vaccine. With only 1 dose, the Sinovax vaccine only has a 16% efficacy rate at preventing infection and a 36% success rate at keeping people out of hospital. The infection rate has greatly increased in younger people (below 60) who have lessened the use of masks, social distancing etc with news of the impending vaccination programs. The spread of the more contagious Brazilian variant has added to the increase in infection rates and hospitalizations as well. I think this article describes in more detail what has been happening - https://www.reuters.com/.../chiles-covid-19-vaccine.../.

The good news is that the infection rate has started to come down in the last few days. Today it was announced (thank you for the update Francisco) that the Pinto region where Nevados de Chillan is located, will come out of lockdown on Monday, as will other regions where the infection rates are lower (haven't heard about Santiago yet). The international border was closed on April 5th for one month and is scheduled to re-open on May 5th.

So, overall, good news. The Chilean government is prioritizing people who took the Sinovax vaccine to get their second dose (the Pfizer vaccine has proven to be 80% effective against the virus after only 1 shot) and secure a more diverse range of vaccines. The government is aiming to have 80% of the population (19.5m people total population) fully vaccinated by June, thus allegedly achieving herd immunity. That would be great news for our programs starting in August.

I'll keep the updates coming as I have them. All the best team.

Matt"
 
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Mattadvproject

Mattadvproject

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I posted this second update today (Tue 4th May)......

"Hola amigos, hope all is well. Quick update about Chile. I spoke with Francisco in Chile for about an hour today. Overall, things continue to move in the right direction. Unfortunately the government has not given an update on the reopening of the international border. It was supposed to reopen tomorrow after the 1 month closure, but it appears it will remain shut for the time being. Francisco feels that we won't see an announcement on that until after the voting for the new Chilean Constitutional Convention on the 15th/16th May, which is not far away.

Apparently the government has been working away behind the scenes and wants there to be some kind of COVID health passport in place when the borders are reopened, so that Chileans can leave/re-enter without difficulty. That would also help foreign visitors as well, most likely those that are fully-vaccinated. Major updates from the government are given on Mondays and Thursdays in Chile apparently, so we could know more on Thursday or next week.

So, it's a shame that was no word on the border reopening tomorrow, but the country does continue to move in the right direction for COVID infection rates. Pinto (the district where Nevados de Chillan is) moved up to stage 2 restrictions a couple of weeks ago and now there is hope that in a couple of weeks they will move to level 3. Now I can't tell you the intricacies of each level, but level 1 is total lockdown, level 2 is basically reopened from Monday through Friday with restrictions, level 3 is open all week with restrictions and level 4 is open but with some low level restrictions. Level 5 is no restrictions at all.

Chillan, the regional capital and home to the biggest hospitals with the all-important intensive care units for the surrounding populations was still at stage 1 lockdown, but tomorrow, they will move to stage 2. Francisco feels that Pinto region will move to stage 3 (open all week, with restrictions) in a week or two. That's really important for the ski resort obviously. Dining is limited to a maximum of 6 people per table with each table socially-distanced indoors during stage 3 restrictions, at stage 4, group size can be much bigger. I would hope that with continued vaccinations and decreasing serious infection rate, then Pinto could keep moving to level 4. Level 3 would still allow the resort to open all week and we could still dine out, although tables would be limited in size. I think that would still work for us though.

In terms of the vaccinations, then currently vaccinations are being given to adults aged 40 and above. Next Monday (10th) they move to 35 years and older and then the Monday (17th) after that, they will move to 30 and older. Quite the segmented system. The government has purchased in total 40m additional doses of the vaccine. All of this helps us a foreign visitors obviously in our quest to be allowed in and stay safer from infection hopefully.

Another very important piece of news is that it is no longer illegal for workers to reside on or near the mountain, during the pandemic. Allegedly last season, the ski area owner's association wanted to open the ski areas, but it was illegal during restrictions for employees to reside in or close to the resort, so they had no staff to be able to legally be able to stay on/near the mountain and run the amenities. People were supposed to be staying at or close to home. That rule is no longer enforced. So, staffing the resort in the wintertime should no longer be an issue. I think that's a really important change and should give them the ability to stay open, after all, the Chilean resorts have seen that other countries (the US for example) that have been able to have a successful ski season. I know they will want to do the same as missing all the revenue from their last winter, some nearly went bankrupt. I don't think they can afford to do that again.

That's it for now. Will chime in with more updates as I have them. Onwards and upwards!

- Matt"
 
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Mattadvproject

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The Chilean referendum stated today and will be over tomorrow. Hopefully once that is over, we will have some updates on the Chilean border. The COVID infection rate in Chile continues to decline.....
 
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Mattadvproject

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I posted a new update about Chile today......

Starting to get a little bit more optimistic about Chile going ahead this summer after my chat with Francisco today. I was at 50/50 before and now I think I'm at 60/40 in favor of the trips happening. I'm encouraged by what I am hearing. Francisco sent me this image today and he says that the press (taken from an article in Latercera) are reporting that the government is close to agreeing to a scheme for a vaccine passport for Chileans. This is for domestic travel and would allow fully-vaccinated Chileans free movement around the country and remove any COVID restrictions. The text in the photo below reads "carnet verde para vacunados debutaría el segundo semestre, permitira libre circulacion en zonas confinadas y viajes interregionales" which translates roughly to "green card for vaccinated would debut the second semester, allow free circulation in confined areas and interregional travel."


IMG-20210520-WA0000.jpg

So basically a COVID local passport. This is an important development and shows that the Chilean government does want to reduce restrictions for fully-vaccinated people. That can only help foreign travelers in the long-run. We need an official government announcement on this, but we continue to move in the right direction. Francisco says that there is more and more official talk of reopening the border and having a system in place for fully-vaccinated overseas travelers. The other big news, whilst not pertaining specifically to Chile, is the imminent announcement of unrestricted travel for fully-vaccinated travelers from the US to the EU. That's going to be huge news when that is officially announced (https://www.usatoday.com/story/trav...visitors-vaccinated-eu-travel-ban/5021160001/) . I would hope that that inspires other countries, like Chile, to follow suit. Hopefully we see a domino effect from here on in. Chile goes on holiday tomorrow and I would hope for more news on Monday. Until then!
 

Saintsman

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Chile might be open to allowing EU/UK visitors in, but I very much doubt EU or UK citizens will be allowed to travel. Chile is on the UK Red list right now and looks like a long way to go to reach Amber, let alone Green
 
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Mattadvproject

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Chile might be open to allowing EU/UK visitors in, but I very much doubt EU or UK citizens will be allowed to travel. Chile is on the UK Red list right now and looks like a long way to go to reach Amber, let alone Green
Sorry to hear that.... if not this summer, then hopefully next for you.
 
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Mattadvproject

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We'll be travelling this summer - but the places are going to be fairly limited. The initial list us very restrictive, and we likely aren't even adding Spain and France till the end of next month at the earliest
I hope you get to go somewhere. Summer holidays or up to a glacier somewhere for some turns?
 

Saintsman

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I hope you get to go somewhere. Summer holidays or up to a glacier somewhere for some turns?
We'll get some sun in somewhere (maybe Caribbean if we're lucky). Don't think it will be worthwhile trying to get to a glacier - I suspect that they will be absolutely crowded beyond belief, and to be honest, my wife simply just deserves some complete 100% relaxation

For us it's all about having a reliable and open travel corridor to Canada in January
 
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Mattadvproject

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Some important news from Chile.....

Yesterday (23rd May) it was formally announced that Chile is launching a new "Mobility Pass" scheme which will allow fully-vaccinated Chileans (+14 days) free movement during times of restriction and lockdown. This is a very important step in the reopening of Chile and it's infrastructure and then the reopening of the international border soon I hope. I think you need to have a scheme in place for your local population who is vaccinated to be able to move about freely, before you can allow foreign visitors in next, in my opinion.

The official announcement can be found here at - https://www.minsal.cl/presidente-pinera-recibe.../. The translated text (thanks Google translate) reads as follows:

"-The Mobility Pass will allow the lifting of certain travel restrictions imposed in the communes that are in Quarantine or Transition and travel between regions.

The President of the Republic, Sebastián Piñera, received this Sunday a new shipment with 2.2 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine against COVID-19, the largest shipment that has arrived in Chile.

In the instance, the Head of State also announced the prompt implementation of a Mobility Pass, which will allow people who have completed their vaccination process to move freely in the communes that are in Quarantine or Transition and make interregional trips between communes that are at least in Step 2 (Transition), respecting the activity restrictions associated with the place where you are.

"These greater freedoms that the mobility pass will grant, like all freedoms, must be accompanied by greater responsibility," remarked the President after receiving the vaccines at the Arturo Merino Benítez Airport, accompanied by the Ministers of Health, Enrique Paris, and of Science, Andrés Couve.

The pass, which can be accessed digitally or physically in clinics or vaccinations, does not release people from the obligation of isolation that entails being a confirmed, probable or close contact coronavirus case. Nor does it eliminate in any case the individual measures of self-care, such as the use of a mask, physical distancing, hand washing and ventilation of spaces.

“Vaccination is not an individual decision to protect only the health of those who are vaccinated. Getting vaccinated is also an act of solidarity to protect the health and life of their families, their loved ones, their co-workers, and their communities, ”said the President.

"I want to call you to get vaccinated because the vaccine is effective, safe and protects health and to rigorously practice our personal care and faithfully respect health standards because only in this way, united, with faith, with hope, as we have always done, we Chileans go to overcome this pandemic ”, concluded President Sebastián Piñera."

This is an important step which takes us closer to the reopening of the Chilean border and a return to travel there in August hopefully....
 
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Mattadvproject

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Latest news from Chile....... the government just announced that they will be extending the closure of the border until June 15th - https://cl.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/.... This is an interesting announcement as they have not given a specific date for a closure before. My hope (and what Francisco believes) is that the border could be reopened after this date. If that is the case, I would hope for some kind of announcement several days before a reopening. That would be soon. I will be watching and waiting. So, I don't see this announcement as negative news per say; hopefully it's a sign that we could be closer to a reopening date.

I am also buoyed by recent news concerning the official launch of the "Mobility Passport" that I had written about in my last post. Given the increased freedoms that the scheme provides for fully-vaccinated users, there has been a surge in younger people getting vaccinated in the past few days. Vaccinations have risen by a staggering 40% in the past couple of days ( http://www.ladiscusion.cl/172842-2/... - The headline reads - "Ñuble reports a 40% increase in vaccinated after the announcement of the Mobility Pass - An increase in the number of people who attend the different vaccination points against Covid-19 has been evidenced this week in the Ñuble region, after the government announced the Mobility Pass, which consists of a certificate for people who They completed the immunization scheme that allows them to move freely through communes that are in the Quarantine and Transition phase."

This article refers to the Nuble region of Chile (where Nevados de Chillan is located), but this uptick in vaccinations has been seen in other areas apparently. Most importantly, younger people are taking up the vaccine now and hopefully that will stem the tide of infections after most of the older population had been fully-vaccinated. Chile is currently at 50% of it's population now fully-vaccinated - https://www.reuters.com/.../chile-loosen-restrictions.../....

With that 40% increase in vaccinations in younger people in the past few days, then I would hope to see a rapid decrease in the infection rates in the upcoming weeks. Again, this all helps reduce infection rates and lessens the burden on public health infrastructure, all conditions we would need for the border to reopen again. This is an important event in the timeline for a border reopening in my opinion.

- Matt
 
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Mattadvproject

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Nevados de Chillan posted a note about hiring staff for the upcoming season on their Facebook page yesterday. It looks like they are definitely going to open for the season then. That's great news for the locals. Now all we need is an announcement about the borders reopening and we are all set! Hopefully the last piece of the puzzle.....
 
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Heavy snow in the forecast tomorrow (6/7/21) for Nevados de Chillan..... 1 week tomorrow till the border closure is set to expire, unless they announce an extension. Fingers crossed!
 
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Mattadvproject

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Unfortunately, the Chilean border closure has been extended another two weeks till the end of June. As frustrating as that is, it's interesting that it was only for another two weeks, not a month or more. We must be coming to the end....... I have hope!
 
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