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Visiting Galapagos in Times of Covid-19

1: Preamble

2020-10-23

 

This guide is based on our current knowledge of the published protocols. We cannot predict how strictly they will be applied, or how they may change in response to current circumstances.

We urge you to obtain travel interruption and cancellation insurance that includes disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic. You may also be required to carry comprehensive health insurance with coverage for air-evacuation to the continent.
 

2: Requirements for Travel to Ecuador & Galapagos.

 

For health security, Ecuadorian authorities need to know where you will be staying at all stages of your visit. So, it will be necessary to make all reservations prior to your departure to Ecuador. The requirements to enter Ecuador are supplemented by additional requirements for entry to Galapagos.
 

 

Documentation required for Visitors to Ecuador:

  • A passport with at least 6 months of validity.
  • Evidence of a negative RT-PCR test, taken within 10 days  of arrival in Ecuador. (There is a 96-hour limit for visiting Galapagos). Tests conducted in Ecuador must be from an authorized facility.

 

Additional Documentation - For Galapagos:

  • Evidence of a negative RT-PCR test, taken within 96 hours (4 days) of your flight to Galapagos.  If your itinerary necessitates a second test to meet the time limit, that test must be undertaken at a Government-approved laboratory.*
  • One or more “Salvoconductos” (safe passage forms) for all your accommodation while in Galapagos. Salvoconductos are issued by the Ministry of Tourism at the request of a licensed establishment or agency. It may take several days to obtain the Salvoconducto, so be sure to make all reservations sufficiently far in advance.
  • A Transit Control Card (TCT) which costs $20 and requires you to enter details of your visit. You should apply online and collect the card at the airport.*
  • Foreign tourists must provide evidence of comprehensive health insurance that specifically includes Covid-19 related costs and emergency air-evacuation to the continent in case of illness or accident.*
  • * See links at foot of page. Note that the Galeodan Suites are registered with the Ministry of Tourism under the name of “Jardin de Helena”.

3: Procedure for Entry to Ecuador and Galapagos

 

On Arrival in Ecuador:

In flight, you will complete the Traveller Health Declaration form with contact information, details of recent travel, and current health.

On arrival, you must provide evidence of a negative RT-PCR test taken in your country origin within 10 days of your arrival in Ecuador.

On Departure for Galapagos:

At the counter of the CGREG (Galapagos Governing Council):

    Provide the Salvaconductos issued by your tour operator or the licensed establishments where you will be staying in Galapagos.

    Pay for and receive the Transit Control Card. It is preferable to complete the application online before reporting .

Next, report to the counter of the ABG (Agency for Regulation and Control of Biosecurity and Quarantine for Galapagos) for the standard luggage scanning & inspection.

Report to the airline counter to present evidence of a negative RT-PCR test performed within the last 96 hours (4 days).

Foreign tourists will also be asked to provide evidence of Health Insurance.

If, at any stage, you receive a positive or even inconclusive test result, you will have to re-schedule or cancel your plans for Galapagos and enter 14 days of Mandatory Isolation. That will usually mean staying in your current accommodation. More details of the testing and isolation procedure are provided below.

Please take all due precautions in your travels prior to departure for Galapagos. Please self-monitor for symptoms of Covid-19 as it will better to know before you get here and get turned away at entry, need to isolate on the island, or even be evacuated back to the continent by air-ambulance.
 

4: Requirements While in Galapagos

 

These are the protocols, mandated by local authorities, to which all touristic accommodation, agencies, operators, residents, and visitors must adhere.

Primary Directives

With the state of emergency initiated in March, 2020, all persons are required to wear a face mask and maintain an interpersonal distance of at least 2m whenever in public. The distance is reduced to 1m in limited circumstances but, unless you are certain, assume 2m.

A Curfew (toque de queda) is in place, varying by province and even city. In Galápagos the curfew initially ran from 2:00pm to 5:00am and all-day Sunday but has been shortened as conditions improve. In July 2020, the times were 11:00pm to 5:00am each day. The hours will continue to change as circumstances warrant.

You must comply with isolation requirements as and when directed – See further.

Failure to abide by these requirements may result in fines with heavier sanctions for repeat infractions.

Further Measures

The Protocols urge increased frequency of hand washing and disinfection to minimize contagion.

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for 40 to 60 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not available, use a 70% alcohol gel solution.
  • Avoid touching your mask or face.
  • Be especially mindful when touching surfaces which may have been touched by others: railings, handles etc.
  • Cover your mouth with a disposable tissue when coughing or sneezing, or into your elbow – Do not use your hands.

If you experience Covid-19 symptoms or have reason to suspect you have been exposed to the virus, advise your host or agent immediately and they will contact the health authorities.
 

5: Testing, Tracing & Mandatory Isolation

 

Once you have alerted your host or agent to symptoms or the possibility of infection, you will be asked to answer the following questions:

  • What countries, and places in Ecuador, have you visited in the last 14 days?
  • What is your complete flight history, including connections and places visited in other countries?
  • In the last 14 days, have you had contact with people who are confirmed with Covid-19 or who displayed Covid-19 related symptoms?

At that point, you will have to be isolated in your room, pending arrival of the local health authorities. Depending on circumstances, it may be necessary to divide your party into separate rooms.

Depending on your presentation of Covid-19 systems, your recent travel history, and contact with suspected or confirmed cases, you may be identified as a Suspect Case at which point you will be taken for testing at the nearest health facility.

If you have been identified as Suspect Case, you are then required to enter Mandatory Isolation for 14 days in your current establishment - Regardless of the test results.

If the test is positive for Covid-19 infection, you will be either hospitalized, if necessary, or returned to your current establishment for Mandatory Isolation.

Even if you do not present symptoms, you may be identified as a “Contact” – Someone who has travelled with or been in close contact with a probable of confirmed case of Covid-19. The health authorities will determine the required action, which may include mandatory isolation in your current establishment.

Travellers must cover all the costs of mandatory isolation, including lodging, maintenance, transportation etc.
 

6: Special Measures Recommended for Guests

 

Plan and Reserve Ahead

Make lodging reservations sufficiently in advance to obtain the Salvaconductos you will need for entry to continental Ecuador and Galapagos. If you are making a reservation for the Galeodan Suites, we will apply to the issuing authority for the Salvaconducto once the reservation is confirmed by us and we have received the necessary details, such as complete names and passport numbers.
 

 

Travelling – Extras to Bring

You may find it difficult to find face masks, gloves, alcohol-gel and other protective products during your travels, and availability in Galapagos is especially hard to predict (besides which it will be expensive). We strongly recommend you travel with a good supply of:

  • Protective Masks –Preferably washable\reusable
  • Gloves
  • Alcohol-gel

We further recommend the following:

Digital Oral Thermometer

On your journey towards Galapagos, you may undergo numerous temperature screenings using non-contact devices that could result in disruption to your vacation. We too are required to scan guests on arrival at the Suites and you may be scanned at the start of every excursion, by land or sea. Although scanning devices may provide a level of security, they are no substitute for a thermometer that measures true body temperature. It may help to have a proper thermometer at hand. (Note that you may not be able to carry a mercury thermometer in hand luggage.)

Mask & Snorkel \ Scuba Gear

While operators are generally assiduous with cleaning equipment between trips, having your own equipment, including short wetsuits, will provide more peace of mind. You will also be able to take advantage of the excellent snorkelling around town.
 

7: Key Links (Spanish only)

 

The following links are from the webpage of the National Risk Management & Emergencies Service (RSG), which lists over 100 protocols affecting various industries, sports, personal protection, etc. We have identified the following key protocols related to flying into Galapagos and the procedures for testing and isolation in the event of suspected infections.

 

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