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Thursday, March 23, 2023

News briefs: El Al and others operating rescue flights from Costa Rica

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted daily life in Costa Rica, which has declared a State of Emergency and enacted sweeping measures to slow its spread.

Here’s what you should know as the day begins:

El Al, others, operate rescue flights from Costa Rica

El Al, the flag carrier airline of Israel, is making its first appearance in Costa Rica on Thursday.

The airline is operating a special rescue flight to bring Israelis home in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. An El Al 787-9 is scheduled to land at Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) from Houston at 1:45 p.m. It will then fly nonstop to Tel Aviv with a 5:15 p.m. scheduled departure from Costa Rica.

El Al isn’t the only airline operating rescue flights, which are designed to bring citizens home as many carriers cancel operations and countries close their borders.

Air France, KLM and Lufthansa are also offering rescue flights today, while Albatros Airlines and Condor will do so tomorrow, according to the airport.

Businesses offer special hours for at-risk population

The Health Ministry has updated its sanitary guidelines for commercial chains, supermarkets and small grocery stores.

Among the requirements is that they establish hours dedicated to the elderly or those with chronic health conditions that place them at a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

The Health Ministry also mandated that residential and commercial condominiums close common areas such as: clubhouses, rooftops, swimming pools, hot tubs, gyms, multipurpose courts and event rooms, among others.

U.S. Embassy urges citizens to return home

The U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica issued a health alert on Wednesday reminding visitors to return to the United States or risk an indefinite stay abroad.

Here is the U.S. Embassy’s release:

Due to the Costa Rican ban on non-resident foreigners entering the country, commercial carriers are slowing and stopping regular flights.  As of today, most carriers have suspended service to and from both San Jose and Liberia airports.  As far as the Embassy is aware, Delta is the only carrier operating direct flights from San Jose/Liberia and the United States, and we understand they will be suspending daily service as of March 31.  Their current plan includes two flights on April 18 and 25, but that is subject to change.  

Obviously, the situation is fluid and even the scheduled flights could be suspended on short notice. We urge all U.S. citizens who wish to depart Costa Rica to do so now.  U.S. citizens who remain in Costa Rica should be prepared to remain in Costa Rica for an indefinite period.  For the latest list on flights into/out of San Jose and Liberia, see

The U.S. State Department has issued a worldwide Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory due to the COVID-19 pandemic.



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