One month after the partial reopening of commercial flights to Costa Rica, six states from the United States will be allowed to arrive
as of Sept. 1 - A.M. Costa Rica wire services illustrative photo -

Published Thursday, August 20, 2020

Flights from six of the U.S. states
will be able to enter Costa Rica

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

One month after the partial reopening of commercial flights to Costa Rica, six states from the United States will be allowed to arrive as of Sept. 1, the Ministry of Tourism announced on Wednesday.

According to Gustavo Segura, Minister of Tourism, in the first phase of allowing commercial flights from the U.S., passengers will be allowed to arrive in the country on flights from New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Main, Vermont and Connecticut.

Flights from these states will be allowed because "in these six states there has been a very positive evolution of the pandemic situation and the epidemiological indicators of these states are of high quality, even comparable or better than those of Costa Rica," Segura said.

However, the authorities continue to analyze the statistics of cities such as Colorado, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. In the case of these states "maintaining the trend they have, within a few weeks, the possibility of receiving their residents will also be announced," Segura said.

According to Segura, people who arrive in the country from the six authorized states will have to prove that they live in those states through their driver's licenses.

In addition, passengers arriving in the country must also comply with the rest of the requirements required by the Ministry of Health, such as:

• Present negative PCR tests for covid-19 performed within 48 hours prior to travel.

• Fill the digital epidemiological form of Social Security.

• Have travel insurance that includes accommodation in case of quarantine and possibly medical expenses for acute illness.

According to the authorities, the opening of flights from the U.S. will be "very gradual." It is expected the arrival of four flights at the Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) in Alajuela Province and one flight at Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR) in Guanacaste Province.

Given the interest shown by several international airlines to resume their flights to Costa Rica, the Costa Rican Chamber of Hotels (CCH) asked the government last week to clarify the strategy to allow more international flights into the country.

According to the CCH, with a clear strategy to reopen international flights, many of the questions that arose during the initial phase of resuming international flights can be avoided.

Last week, the Ministry of Health, together with the Tourism Institute announced the resumption of international flights from Japan, Thailand, China, Australia, New Zealand and Uruguay.

On Aug. 1, the General Directorate of Migration announced that they opened to only commercial flights with passengers from the European Union affiliated to the Schengen zone treaty. "In the case of the United Kingdom and Canada, flights will be authorized to enter the country pending new requirements."

The Schengen Area, named after the 1985 Schengen Agreement signed in Schengen, Luxembourg, is an area comprising 26 European countries that have officially abolished all passports and all other types of border control at their mutual borders.

The 26 Schengen countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

However, the European Union Council announced that the ban on Costa Rica travelers remains. The list of countries allowed to exchange international flights can be found on the European Union Council website.

According to the Chamber, U.S. airlines are already processing their permits to resume flights to Costa Rica from all 50 states, however, "the government still does not allow the entry of citizens from that nation and there is no definitive date to do so."

"It is urgent to define a border opening date, since the airlines, despite the interest they have shown, require time to plan and generate demand (referring to the sale of tickets)," said Javier Pacheco, president CCH. "Therefore, the faster we can notify of the opening, the faster they can be organized, so that we can secure more tourists for the start of the high season, between November and December."

According to Pacheco, CCH seeks answers to the following most pressing questions: What are the procedures for the removal of travel restrictions? How will they incorporate new international routes? How will they incorporate more inclusive coordination with the authorities and participation in the process, to avoid any uncertainty for airlines and foreign tourists?

The Chamber needs immediate answers to properly prepare for tourists.

This is the second Chamber that requests the reopening of flights from the U.S. this month.

Due to the exclusion of flights from the U.S., the Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce, AmCham, requested the government to allow for the arrival of commercial flights from the northern country.

According to AmCham, in 2019 more than 1,300,000 U.S. citizens visited Costa Rica, which could be equivalent to a quarter of the total of tourists that arrived in the country just last year.

The ban on commercial flight arrivals from the U.S. limits the arrival of tourists to Costa Rica, AmCham said. With more flights, a higher number of tourists will enter the country to reactivate the tourism sector affected by the covid-19 pandemic.

"Most of the airlines that fly to Costa Rica come from the U.S. and provide the highest frequency of direct flights. Historically, U.S. citizens are the largest group of tourists, so it is illogical to exclude them," said Gisela Sánchez, AmCham president. "We believe that by applying the same regulation proposed for other countries, flights should be able to reach our country."

AmCham's proposal is under equal conditions, U.S. citizens can present, before their flight, the negative result of their covid-19 test (PCR) and complete the digital epidemiological form of Social Security.

In March, the government declared a national state of emergency due to the covid-19 crisis and ordered the closure of all borders, including maritime, land and air. The decree allowed only Costa Ricans and foreign-born residents to enter the country.

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