Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Costa Rica tighten internal movement restrictions April 3-12 due to COVID-19. Other movement restrictions in place.

This alert affects Costa Rica

This alert began 02 Apr 2020 10:32 GMT and is scheduled to expire 12 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Travel restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least April 12
  • Impact: International and internal transport disruptions, significant business disruptions, increased security

Authorities in Costa Rica will tighten their nationwide ban on vehicular transit April 3-12. The additional measures during this period are part of the government's efforts to stem the curb of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), particularly during the Easter holy week (Semana Santa), when domestic movements tend to increase. All public transport will be suspended; taxis will be allowed to circulate in accordance with the specific vehicular bans. Only essential services will be exempt from the measure, which will be enforced as follows:

  • April 4-7: All vehicular transit banned 1700-0500.
  • April 4 and 6: Plates ending in 0, 2, 4, 6, 8 will be banned 0500-1700.
  • April 5 and 7: Plates ending in 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 will be banned 0500-1700.
  • April 8: 24-hour ban for all vehicles except plates ending in 0 and 1.
  • April 9: 24-hour ban for all vehicles except plates ending in 2 and 3.
  • April 10: 24-hour ban for all vehicles except plates ending in 4 and 5.
  • April 11: 24-hour ban for all vehicles except plates ending in 6 and 7.
  • April 12: 24-hour ban for all vehicles except plates ending in 8 and 9.

Other measures have already been implemented, including the closure of beaches and places of worship since March 24. This is in addition to the closure of nonessential businesses since mid-March, including bars, theaters, cinemas, and restaurants, which are only allowed to work for deliveries and pickups. Authorities have also closed all public and private schools through April 12, and have asked all those who can telecommute to do so in the coming weeks.

On an international level, most commercial passenger flights to and from Costa Rica have been suspended as of April 2, including all flights to and from the US. Departing flights have become severely limited since the government's entry ban for nonresident foreign nationals and the closure of the country's borders through at least April 12. Costa Rican nationals and residents will be allowed to enter the country from abroad, but they will have to self-quarantine for 14 days on arrival in the country. Any foreign citizen who chooses to leave the country would immediately lose any legal status they possess to live or work in Costa Rica.

Authorities may take additional measures in the coming days, especially if the spread of COVID-19 continues. The measures in place will significantly impact business and transport in the country, with larger than usual police presence in the streets. 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.

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.

WHO coronavirus knowledge base:

Ministry of Health of Costa Rica: