Airlines may resume flights to Leticia starting May 1 given that large numbers of the population in the departmental capital of Amazonas have received a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

The announcement by Colombia’s Minister of Health Fernando Ruíz heralds the gradual reopening of one of the country’s most important tourism destinations and reachable only by air with the rest of the country.

As a gateway to the Amazon, Leticia also shares riverine borders with Brazil and Peru, both closed with the declaration of the Health Emergency. The return of flights, however, includes strict guidelines for travelers, among them, the presentation of vaccination cards of two doses for those departing Leticia and valid 15 days after the last inoculation. All passengers must also present a negative antigen test for COVID-19 taken within 48 hours of departure. Children under the age of 2 years are exempted from these measures.

“We consider that the combination of vaccination, reduction of observed transmission, antigen testing, a vaccination card, plus preventive isolation when necessary, contribute to controlling this potential impact of infection,” stated Julián Fernández, the Ministry’s director of Epidemiology.

All commercial air travel was suspended to Leticia on January 27, 2021, given confirmation of the Brazilian variant among residents.

“It was virtually impossible to prevent the arrival of the P1 to the interior of the country, but the measures the government adopted were aimed at delaying the moment in which the Brazilian variant would become the predominant strain,” added Fernández. The infectious disease expert also highlighted that doses have been administered in remote Amazonian communities. “Vaccination in the Amazon belt has been successful with high coverage. Residents of Puerto Nariño, Puerto Inírida and Mitú will be getting their second doses within days.”

As Leticia rejoins the travel grid, the country’s Civil Aviation Authority has authorized 32 international routes as of May 6 when American Airlines launches its New York JFK service to Bogotá, Medellín and Cali respectively. The new routes are also a codeshare with JetBlue, American’s NorthEast Alliance partner. Jetblue also expands its Colombia foothold with a daily Newark – Cartagena flight starting on July 1. The country’s leading carriers – Avianca, LATAM, Viva Air, Wingo, Easy Fly – have also announced greater connectivity between domestic hubs and the U.S, Central America, Caribbean, Ecuador, Peru and Chile.