Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Costa Rica extend border closures and entry restrictions through May 15 due to COVID-19 activity. Other measures remain.

This alert affects Costa Rica

This alert began 21 Apr 2020 12:00 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Travel restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least May 15
  • Impact: International and internal transport disruptions, significant business disruptions, increased security

Summary
Authorities in Costa Rica extended the closure of all land, sea, and air ports of entry through at least May 15. Citizens and legal residents will still be allowed to enter, but will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Foreign nationals residing in Costa Rica will lose their legal resident status if they leave the country and will be prohibited from reentering until at least May 15. The border closure does not apply to cargo and goods transportation.

The government will also maintain internal movement restrictions through at least April 30. All nonessential businesses, activities, and facilities are to remain closed, including bars, cinemas, theaters, gymnasiums, and beaches. Authorities have asked all those who can telecommute to do so. Officials are also maintaining restrictions on vehicular travel since April 13. The order excludes taxis, cargo vehicles, and essential services. No private vehicles are allowed to be driven 1900-0500 Monday-Sunday. Other restrictions remain in place 0500-1900, as follows:

  • Mondays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 1 and 2 may not be driven.
  • Tuesdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 3 and 4 may not be driven.
  • Wednesdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 5 and 6 may not be driven.
  • Thursdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 7 and 8 may not be driven.
  • Fridays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 9 and 0 may not be driven.
  • Saturdays: No vehicles may be driven 0500 to 1900 except to transport people to essential businesses such as supermarkets or pharmacies. Vehicles with license plates ending in 0, 2, 4, 6, and 8 may not be driven for any reason.
  • Sundays: No vehicles may be driven 0500 to 1900 except to transport people to essential businesses such as supermarkets or pharmacies. Vehicles with license plates ending in 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 may not be driven for any reason.


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 measures taken by the Costa Rican government correspond with similar actions taken by other governments globally in recent weeks, in response to the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). 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.

Advice
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.

Resources
WHO coronavirus knowledge base: www.who.int

Ministry of Health of Costa Rica: www.ministeriodesalud.go.cr