Panama's land borders were closed between March 16, 2020 and January 29, 2021, profoundly affecting Operation Controlled Flow, an agreement established between Panama and Costa Rica for orderly and regular safe migration, as well as flow of extra-regional migrants through Panama in general.
Executive Decree No. 61 of January 8, 2021 reopened the land borders as of January 29, 2021 for nationals, residents, and foreigners within its territory. Costa Rica, however, did not open its border, preventing the controlled flow from starting again.
On September 29, 2020, the San Vicente Migrant Reception States (MRS), with the capacity to shelter 500 migrants, was inaugurated in the city of Meteti, Darién. This MRS was the product of the efforts of the Government of Panama and international cooperation actors.
The inauguration of this new MRS allowed the progressive improvement of the overcrowding conditions that existed in the other MRS in the province of Darién. On January 28, 2021, the Government of Panama ordered the permanent closure of the La Peñita MRS, also located in Darién province, due to the deterioration of the terrain and conditions of the MRS and decreed the complete operationalization of the San Vicente MRS.
Regarding COVID-19 attention, the Lajas Blancas MRS continues to be the MRS for detection and isolation of positive or suspected COVID-19 cases. The MRS has an isolation area so that migrants who contract the virus or are suspected of having contracted it, can comply with the quarantine dictated by the health authorities.