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Health Alert: Costa Rica, New Preventative Measures and Repatriation Flight Information

Event: Travel Alert: Ministry of Health Announces New Preventative Measures and Information on Repatriation Flights

Costa Rica has confirmed 2368 cases of Corona virus as of June 23, 2020.  The Health Ministry has announced that as of June 27, all commercial workers who interact with the public will be required to wear face coverings or shields.  The general public will also be required to wear facial coverings in many circumstances including on public transport, in public offices, in theaters and churches, and at restaurants, except when eating.  The Ministry is expected to publish more detailed guidelines regarding these requirements as well as an update on implementing Phase III of the reopening plan in the coming days.  An English language summary of this announcement can be found by following this link.   An orange alert has been issued for the district of Pavas as of 12:01am on Wednesday, January 24.  (The U.S. Embassy is located in Pavas).  Orange alerts remain in place for several cantons and districts in northern Costa Rica and the Paquera district, as well as in the cantons of Alajuelita and Desamparados.  In regions under an orange alert, most commercial businesses must close at 5pm on weekdays and remain closed on weekends. Driving restrictions are also in place in these areas from 5:00pm to 5:00am on weekdays and all day on weekends, except for trips to supermarkets and health services.  For an English language summary of this announcement please follow this link. 

The U.S. Embassy in San Jose and the U.S. State Department have coordinated with Spirit Airlines to offer a commercial repatriation flight from Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO) in San Jose, Costa Rica, to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida (FLL) on Wednesday, June 24, 2020.  The flight will depart SJO at 12:55pm and arrive at FLL at 5:46pm.  Spirit will offer same day connecting flights to New York LaGuardia and Atlantic City, New Jersey.  Connections to other destinations need to be purchased separately and scheduled for the following day.

United Airlines also continues to offer commercial repatriation flights from Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO) in San Jose, Costa Rica to Houston, Texas (IAH) through June 30.  These flights will take place on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday through June 30.  United flights between June 24 and June 29 will depart SJO at 12:48pm and arrive at IAH at 5:35pm.   

These flights are open to public booking; you are encouraged to book ASAP as seats are limited.  The U.S. Embassy is not able to assist with arranging onward travel from Ft. Lauderdale or Houston.  Policies regarding luggage allowances and seating arrangements will be managed by Spirit and United Airlines. Please visit www.spirit.com or www.united.com for further information regarding availability and connections.  The cost of these flights will be based on the passenger’s final destinations.  These prices are set by Spirit and United Airlines.

Passengers traveling with pets and Emotional Support or Service Animals will need to consult with Spirit or United Airlines regarding additional fees and space availability.  Spirit and United Airlines do not allow pets to travel as cargo.  Proper documentation and veterinary certificates will be required.  Please visit the airline websites for more information.  For more information on requirements for pets to enter the United States, please click on this link.

IMPORTANT HEALTH INFORMATION FOR PASSENGERS ON ALL OUTBOUND REPATRIATION FLIGHTS:

Spirit and United Airlines currently require all passengers to wear face coverings during the check-in process and for the duration of the flight.  Health regulations for boarding the United and Spirit flights will be managed according to Costa Rica Ministry of Health guidelines.  At this time that includes medical personnel monitoring passenger lines for people with COVID 19 symptoms and asking passengers with symptoms to self-identify.  Health regulations for arrival at Houston’s IAH airport and Ft. Lauderdale’s FLL airport are managed by the airport and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) under guidance from CDC and state health officials.  At this time there are no specific measures in place at IAH and FLL.  Check with the airport and CBP websites for updates at https://www.fly2houston.com/iah/overview/https://www.broward.org/airport/passengers/flights/advisories/pages/default.aspx and https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/coronavirus.

All passengers will be subject to Costa Rica immigration and customs laws and Airline policies.  The U.S. Embassy is not able to intervene if people are stopped for violations or do not meet airline regulations.  U.S. Citizens must have valid passports to enter the United States.  If you do not have a valid U.S. passport, please email ACSsanjose@state.gov immediately to apply for an Emergency Passport.  Foreign national passengers must possess an official travel document from their country of nationality and permission to approach a United States port of entry such as a legal permanent resident card, U.S. visa, or Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) pre-approval.  For more information on U.S. entry follow this link:  https://www.cbp.gov/travel.

For information on requesting an emergency visa application appointment call 4000-1976, or visit: www.ustraveldocs.com/cr/cr-niv-expeditedappointment.asp. Note that foreign nationals seeking visas must qualify for a nonimmigrant visa under applicable laws, and that per U.S. Presidential Proclamation, most foreign nationals who have been in areas of highest COVID-19 incidence within the past 14 days must be refused embarkation to the United States. See complete details at www.ustraveldocs.com/cr.  The U.S. Embassy will continue to monitor traffic and travel restrictions associated with COVID-19 preventative measures.  Please be sure you are enrolled in the Safe Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel.html to receive the latest updates.  You can also find updated information on the U.S. Embassy website at https://cr.usembassy.gov/.

Please be aware that foreigners will not be allowed to enter Costa Rica until after current border restrictions are lifted.  People with residency status who depart Costa Rica at this time will not be allowed to re-enter Costa Rica using their residency status until the emergency period is lifted by the Government of Costa Rica.

You can email any additional questions you may have to ACSSANJOSE@state.gov.  We will respond to your email as quickly as possible.

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