The European Union (EU) left Costa Rica out of the authorized nations for direct flights to the 27 member states that make up the block. The decision was made this Tuesday at a meeting where it defined the gradual lifting of restrictions for non-essential travel from outside.

Starting this past Wednesday, the EU will reopen borders citizens from 15 countries considered to be of low risk for the COVID-19 disease. These are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay. China is not on this list, but subject to a reciprocal agreement still pending, said the statement. The residents of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican must also be considered residents for this agreement.

The seven directive institutions of the EU that guides the group politically, assured the list will be reviewed daily and, as the case may be, will be updated every two weeks with new entries and exits if necessary according to the evolution of the Coronavirus. The next review will be on July 14th.

The news came the same day that Costa Rica reported its sixteenth death in less than four days, with the registry of 12 to 16 deaths since the previous Saturday including the death of four women since then. This same Tuesday, besides, the country reached the record number of 44 hospitalizations and 190 infections on the same day for a total of 3,459 cases.

According to the EU statement, the criteria for determining the entry of foreign nationals cover in particular, the situation and containment measures of each nation; including physical distancing. The criteria include that the number of new cases of COVID-19 in the last 14 days per 100,000 inhabitants is close to or below the mean average or that the country registers a stable or decreasing trend of new cases in comparison to the previous 14 days.

Another consideration is the general response of the authorities to the outbreak, including aspects such as testing, surveillance, and location of contacts, containment, treatment, and reports, as well as the reliability of the information.

And, finally, that there is reciprocity on the part of border closures to Europeans; an aspect that will be reviewed regularly and case by case. In the Costa Rican case, the international airports, Juan Santamaría (Alajuela) and Daniel Oduber (Liberia) are closed to Europe. The two terminals could resume their activities on August 1st (one month after what was initially planned) with, in principle, only from places that have a “more controlled disease”.

The plans on airport re-opening were announced on June 26th by the Minister of Health, Daniel Salas, during the press conference to update on the data of COVID-19. Land and sea borders will also remain closed to tourism and will not open before that date.

Rafael Mencía, executive director of Aeris Holding, the management company of Juan Santamaría airport, assured shortly before Salas announcement that this terminal is ready to receive tourists, but warned that they cannot afford an uncontrolled situation since it would be even more negative to have to close again. According to his forecast, the first airlines that would come are those from Panama, Colombia, the United States, and Spain.

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