Well, it looks like I need my first COVID-19 test for travel. I was hoping to avoid this, even heading into 2021. But I guess it had to be an eventuality. As of tomorrow, December 30, the Brazil COVID-19 test requirement for entry into the country by air goes into effect. Since I rescheduled a planned solo trip to São Paulo from October to January, it looks like I need to get tested before I go. The tough part is that I might not be able to pull this off.
Brazil COVID-19 Test Requirement
Starting December 30, 2020, Brazil will require a COVID-19 test and health declaration to be provided for entry into the country. Brazil has been open to tourists since July, and this is the first time testing has been a requirement for entry. The land borders continue to be closed to foreigners.
Here are the details on the Brazil COVID-19 test requirement and entry restrictions:
- U.S. citizens are permitted to enter
- Effective December 17, Brazil extended the restrictions on entry of foreigners by land (unless for transit) and sea, for an indefinite period.
- The entry of foreign visitors traveling by air for a short stay of up to 90 days is currently permitted but beginning December 30, all travelers to Brazil by air (Brazilians and foreigners) must present the following to the airline before boarding:
- Traveler’s Health Declaration (DSV): filled out (in print or digitally) agreeing to sanitary measures that must be complied with during the traveler’s time in Brazil. Note: the Brazilian government has not issued the specifics of this document yet but it is understood that the form will be distributed prior to boarding the airplane to Brazil. For further questions on this document, please contact your airline.
- Negative COVID-19 test: specifically, a document from a laboratory test (RT-PCR) for screening for infection by SARS-CoV-2, with a negative/non-reactive result, performed within 72 hours prior to the moment of boarding; Please see below further clarifications from the Brazilian government regarding the required COVID-19 test:
- The COVID-19 test must be a document from a laboratory test (RT-PCR) for screening for infection by SARS-CoV-2, with a negative/non-reactive result, performed within 72 hours prior to the moment of boarding;
- Test document must be presented in Portuguese, Spanish or English;
- The test must be carried out in a laboratory recognized by the health authority of the country of departure;
- Children under the age of twelve who are traveling with a companion are exempt from presenting a COVID-19 test provided that all companions present the required negative/non-reactive COVID-19 tests. However, children aged two or over and less than twelve years old who are traveling unaccompanied must present proof of the negative/non-reactive COVID-19 test;
- Children under the age of two years are exempt from presenting a negative COVID-19 test;
- In the event of travel to Brazil with connections or stopovers where the traveler remains in a restricted area of the airport, the seventy-two hour period applies for prior to boarding the first flight of the trip.
Proof of health insurance is no longer required. The country also remains listed at Level 4 Travel Advisory (Do Not Travel) by the U.S. State Department. There are currently no intra-Brazil travel restrictions, curfews, or quarantine requirements.
What A Headache This Is
I may actually end up canceling the trip, if I can get a refund for all of the tickets. Getting a COVID-19 test in time before the trip is going to be difficult, if not impossible. The samples collected in our county are shipped out by plane routinely. We may not have a rapid testing center that can process them immediately. I know the ones from CVS take 3-4 days to get results back, and that is a nonstarter for the Brazil COVID-19 test requirement.
My plane lands in São Paulo at 7:00 AM on Sunday, January 24. My departure is at 12:41 PM on Saturday, January 23. This means I have to be tested sometime and receive results between Wednesday afternoon and Saturday morning, assuming that the prior to travel requirement is indeed correct. It would be safest to get tested on Thursday, if I can get rapid results.
Considering that the typical lab test takes too long to process, I either need to find a place locally that does rapid COVID-19 testing, or I may need to head out of the area. This could kill an entire day prior to the trip, which I’m not considering worth it at this point to make this happen. I really didn’t expect a Brazil COVID-19 test requirement to be put in place, given how lax the country has been compared to many others. There aren’t many countries that require neither testing nor quarantine.
Obviously, I understand the need for COVID-19 testing and am not arguing against it. I’d rather see countries remain open to tourism with testing and screening requirements in place, as this is the most practical solution for balancing both economic and health concerns. Quarantines effectively kill travel. But I would be lying if I didn’t see this as a headache since I live in a rural area.