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News > El Salvador

El Salvador Reopens Airports, Requires PCR Test for Nationals

  • Travellers return to El Salvador's main airport. September 19, 2020.

    Travellers return to El Salvador's main airport. September 19, 2020. | Photo: Twitter / @SecPrensaSV

Published 20 September 2020

The judiciary says authorities cannot prevent entry to Salvadoran nationals for not presenting a negative test.

The international airport in San Salvador reopened on Saturday with limited commercial flight operations, and the requirement of a negative COVID-19 PCR test, despite a ruling by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court which said that the entry of Salvadorans or permanent residents cannot be denied.


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The government of Nayib Bukele said that airlines must require a negative PCR test from passengers in order to keep the airport open without causing a second wave of infections. Airline crew, diplomats and children under two years of age are exempt.

The judiciary says that health, airport and migration authorities cannot lawfully prevent entry to Salvadoran nationals nor foreigners who have permanent residency if they come without presenting a negative test, and denial of their entry may be a crime.

El Salvador’s government closed airports on March 17th with the exception of cargo flights and limited humanitarian missions, initially taking some of the most strict measures in Latin America.

The San Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez Airport restarted operations with 20 percent of its capacity for flights to 13 destinations in Central America and North America, according to airport authorities. Land border restrictions which began in March will also be lifted on Monday.

The Ministry of Health has reported a downward trend in coronavirus cases following a peak in mid-August and has recorded 27,428 positive cases and 808 total deaths from COVID-19.

Saturday’s reopening was a spectacle with members of Bukele’s cabinet and airline officials participating in the relaunch.

Constant disinfection throughout inspection areas, waiting rooms and boarding bridges will be among the measures being implemented by the Port Commission.


Nayib Bukele
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