Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Officials in Costa Rica to impose additional restrictions July 11 due to increased COVID-19 activity. Travel restrictions continue.

  • Alert Begins: 10 Jul 2020 08:50 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 20 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel restrictions, significant business disruptions

Authorities in Costa Rica will impose additional business and movement restrictions in most of the country between July 11-19 due to an increase in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in recent days.

Effective July 11, the entire Metropolitan Area, and multiple cantons outside, will be on orange alert, under which only essential businesses, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, medical centers, child and elderly care centers, funeral homes, and those in the food, and security may operate. Delivery services for essential products are also allowed. From Monday through Friday, residents will only be allowed to use their private vehicles to obtain essential services or go to a health center, according to the last number on their license plate:


  • Monday: those ending in 1 and 2


  • Tuesday: 3 and 4


  • Wednesday: 5 and 6


  • Thursday: 7 and 8


  • Friday: 9 and 0


On Saturdays, only private vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers are allowed to circulate, while on Sundays, only those with license plates ending in even numbers. On both days, circulation is allowed only between 0500-1700. Public transport must limit capacity to 20 percent.

The cantons on the orange alert level effective July 11-19 are as follows:


  • Province of San Jose: San Jose, Escazu, Desamparados, Aserri, Mora, Goicoechea, Santa Ana, Alajuelita, Vazquez de Coronado, Tibas, Moravia, Montes de Oca, Curridabat, and Puriscal


  • Province of Alajuela: Alajuela, Poas, Atenas, Grecia, Sarchi, Palmares, Naranjo, San Ramon, Zarcero, Upala, Guatuso, Los Chiles, and parts of San Carlos


  • Province of Heredia: Heredia, Barva, Santo Domingo, Santa Barbara, San Rafael, San Isidro, Belen, Flores, and San Pablo


  • Province of Cartago: Cartago, Paraiso, La Union, Alvarado, Oreamuno, and El Guarco


  • Province of Guanacaste: Bagaces, Liberia, Carrillo, and Canas


  • Province of Limon: Pococi, Talamanca, and Guasimo


  • Province of Puntarenas: Golfito, Garabito, parts of Puntarenas, and Corredores


The rest of the country will continue on yellow alert level, under which, nonessential businesses can operate under capacity limits. Private vehicles on the weekend follow the same guidelines that in orange alert counties. Nationwide, all persons must cover their noses and mouths with a mask or other covering while indoors in public areas and on public transportation.

A ban on entry for nonresident foreign nationals into the country by air, maritime, or ground borders remains in place until at least Aug. 1. 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.

All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice. Restrictions may be reapplied if the number of COVID-19 cases significantly increases. Likewise, a continued low number of cases may result in a further relaxation of restrictions.

Background and Analysis
The restrictions enforced by the Costa Rican government correspond with similar actions previously taken by other governments globally in response to the spread of COVID-19, a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). 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