Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Officials in Costa Rica modify restrictions through July 31, due to COVID-19 activity. Travel restrictions continue.

  • Alert Begins: 21 Jul 2020 02:17 AM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 31 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel restrictions, business disruptions

Authorities in Costa Rica have amended business and movement restrictions through July 31, to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Under new measures, 49 cantons will be on orange alert through July 31. Only essential businesses, such as grocery stores, repair shops, funeral homes, pharmacies, banks, healthcare facilities, and critical infrastructure, security, and media companies, can operate in such areas. Stores may only operate at 50 percent capacity. Residents may use private vehicles between 0500-1700; however, they cannot circulate on certain days, 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


  • Saturday: 0, 2, 4, 6, 8


  • Sunday: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9


The following cantons will be on orange alert through July 31:


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


  • Province of Alajuela: Alajuela, Poas, Atenas, Grecia, Sarchi, Palmares, Naranjo, San Ramon, 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, Oreamuno, and El Guarco.


  • Province of Guanacaste: Liberia, Nicoya, and Canas.


  • Province of Limon: Pococi, and Guasimo


  • Province of Puntarenas: Garabito, Corredores, and parts of Puntarenas, Golfito, and Coto Brus.


The rest of the country will continue on yellow alert level where nonessential businesses can operate under capacity limits. Restaurants, gyms, and retail stores can operate at 50 percent capacity, and churches at 75 percent capacity. Lodging businesses can operate without capacity limits. Bars, nightclubs, and casinos must remain closed. Private vehicles follow the same guidelines that those in orange alert cantons, but they can circulate for additional hours: between 0500-2200 from Monday to Friday, and between 0500-1900 on the weekends.

In border areas, private vehicles cannot be on the streets between 1700-0500. Nationwide, all persons must cover their noses and mouths with a mask or other covering while indoors in public areas and on public transportation. Delivery and pickup services may continue. All businesses may operate with employees working from home.

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 arrival. Air, ground, and maritime freight transport and humanitarian operations are not affected by these restrictions.

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