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Return of commercial flights from U.S. brings tourists, and criticism

September 5, 2020

After more than five months of restrictions due to the coronavirus crisis, the first commercial flight from the United States to Costa Rica arrived Thursday at Juan Santamaría International Airport.

United Airlines flight 1080 landed at the San José-area airport from Newark, New Jersey carrying 146 passengers, according to Teletica. New Jersey is one of several states from which U.S. tourists are authorized to visit Costa Rica as of September 1.

“We are pleased to receive the arrival of the first commercial flight from an authorized destination in the United States,” said Erick Barboza, commercial director for Aeris, which manages SJO. “The airline to make this return a reality is United Airlines with a regular flight that will connect the Newark airport with Juan Santamaría International Airport.”

As of September 1, U.S. residents of New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia can enter Costa Rica as tourists. Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Colorado will be added to the authorized list on September 15.

The gradual reopening to U.S. flights represents “drops of hope” to a struggling tourism sector, according to Tourism Minister Gustavo Segura.

“We’d rather take timid steps that let us keep moving forward, rather than taking aggressive steps that might obligate us to go backward,” Segura said.

Some residents rejected

The Immigration Administration rejected five people aboard UA 1080 from entering Costa Rica.

Two tourists coming from unauthorized states or countries were turned away, as were three Costa Rica residents who weren’t current on their Costa Rica Social Security System (CCSS) payments, according to AmeliaRueda.com.

Ruben Acón, the president of the National Tourism Chamber (CANATUR), criticized the denial of Costa Rica residents.

“The first option shouldn’t be to return them [to their origin country], but to offer resources so that they can update their [CCSS] status immediately, or else, that a payment commitment is assumed with a peremptory period,” Acón said.

“Preventing the entry of travelers to reduce the risk of contagion should be based on virus detection tests, not on a requirement of this type that is not directly related and seems arbitrary.”

Documentation released by the Costa Rican Presidency indicates residents who aren’t current on their Caja payment will be denied entry, even if they meet other entry requirements.

Requirements to enter Costa Rica

Requirements for tourists

  1. Complete the “Health Pass” or “Pase de Salud.” Click here for a link to the form.
  2. Obtain a negative PCR-RT coronavirus test. The sample for this test must have been taken at most 72 hours before the flight to Costa Rica.
  3. Purchase travel insurance that covers accommodation in case of quarantine and medical expenses due to COVID-19. This policy can be international or purchased from Costa Rican insurers.
  4. Tourists from the United States must demonstrate, via their driver’s license or State ID, that they live in one of the authorized states. Tourists from elsewhere (e.g. Canada) must prove via passport stamps or otherwise that they have remained in an authorized country for at least 14 days.

Tourists must meet the above requirements; they do not have to quarantine upon entering Costa Rica. For more information, visit the Costa Rica Tourism Board’s website.

Requirements for residents

  1. A valid passport and DIMEX card.
  2. Proof that Caja payments are current. (You can check here.)
  3. A completed Health Pass form. (It’s available here.)

Residents will be issued a 14-day quarantine order. However, if a resident comes from an authorized country/state and has a qualifying coronavirus test result, they will be not be issued a quarantine order.

For more information, read this official documentation (link downloads PDF) or contact the Costa Rican Consulate.

Requirements for citizens

  1. Proof of citizenship (e.g. a cédula).
  2. A completed Health Pass form. (It’s available here.)

Citizens will be issued a 14-day quarantine order. However, if a citizen comes from an authorized country/state and has a qualifying coronavirus test result, they will be not be issued a quarantine order.

For more information, read this official documentation (link downloads PDF) or contact the Costa Rican Consulate.

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