Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Officials in Costa Rica to ease business and movement restrictions May 16-31, maintain travel restrictions through June 15.

This alert affects Costa Rica

This alert began 12 May 2020 12:06 GMT and is scheduled to expire 31 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: International and internal transport disruptions, significant business disruptions, increased security

Authorities in Costa Rica announced a four-stage plan to reopen businesses in the country, starting with phase 1 between May 16-31, as part of the government's efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The plan follows an initial easing of business restrictions, which started May 1. Authorities also extended a ban on entry for nonresident foreign nationals into the country by air, maritime, or ground borders, until June 15. Citizens and legal residents will still be allowed to enter but will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival. Air, ground, and maritime freight transport, as well as humanitarian operations, are not affected by these restrictions.

Between May 16-31 authorities will allow the following businesses and areas to operate, according to specific guidelines:

  • Monday through Friday between 0500-2200: Theaters and cinemas, ensuring 1.8 meters (six feet) between each person or group, and contactless payment methods; restaurants, retail stores, and malls.
  • Monday through Friday between 0500-0800: beaches.
  • Saturdays and Sundays between 0500-1900: personal care businesses such as hair salons, car repairs, hardware stores, pharmacies, grocery stores, and restaurants only for delivery and pickup services.
  • Monday through Sunday: gyms and fitness centers may open, and noncontact sports will be allowed. Contact sports will be allowed for high-performance athletes, but attendance at sports arenas will remain banned. Hotels of a maximum of 20 rooms may open, limited to 50 percent capacity. 12 National Parks will reopen, limited to 50 percent capacity.

All businesses must enhance sanitation procedures and ensure social distancing between employees and customers. Vehicular restrictions will remain in place, although under an expanded schedule. Private vehicles will be allowed to circulate Monday through Friday 0500-2200, except those with license plates ending in:

  • Monday: 1 and 2
  • Tuesday: 3 and 4
  • Wednesday: 5 and 6
  • Thursday: 7 and 8
  • Friday: 9 and 0

Saturdays and Sundays private vehicles will be allowed to circulate between 0500-1900. Vehicles with license plates ending in 0, 2, 4, 6, and 8 will not be allowed to operate on Saturdays, and those with license plates ending in 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 will not be allowed on the streets on Sundays. No private vehicles will be allowed to be driven 1900-0500.

Other nonessential businesses will remain closed. The following stage of the reopening plan will be between June 1-20, depending on the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Until May 15, cinemas, theaters, sports facilities with no contact sports, gyms will be allowed to open only Monday through Friday between 0500-1900, while on Saturday and Sunday between 0500-1900 barbers, beauty salons, and car repair shops may operate. Private vehicles will be allowed to be driven between 0500-1900, with the same restrictions as those imposed May 16-31.

The measures in place will significantly impact business and transport in the country. Authorities will likely keep an increased police presence deployed to enforce the restrictions. All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice.

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures is likely to accelerate in the coming weeks; however, officials may reimpose restrictions or extend them further should the number of COVID-19 cases increase. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in the areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Back to the COVID-19 Risk Intelligence & Resource Center