Authorities in Costa Rica plan to further ease international travel restrictions as part of the country's response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Effective Nov. 1, travelers from any international destination will be allowed to enter the country provided they produce evidence of having tested negative for COVID-19 using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test taken within 72 hours prior to departure for Costa Rica, fill the required health affidavit, and have sufficient insurance to cover lodging and health expenses.
Until Nov. 1, nonresident foreign nationals traveling only from Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, Canada, the UK, and the European Union, as well as the US states and territories of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming, are may enter Costa Rica. They must also provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival, fill out the health form, and have insurance.
Protective facemasks are required at all times while traveling. Starting Oct. 19, Costa Rican citizens and legal residents are allowed to return to the country without the need to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, provided they produce evidence of having tested negative for COVID-19 using a PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to the departure of their flight. Ground and maritime borders remain closed for nonresident foreign nationals until at least Oct. 31. This measure does not affect cargo transport.
The Costa Rican government continues to use a multi-tiered, color-coded alert system based on local disease activity to track COVID-19 risk and manage restrictions in cantons and districts nationwide. The system consists of four levels: green (low risk), yellow (moderate risk), orange (high risk), and red (extreme risk). As of Oct. 19, all cantons in Costa Rica fall under either the yellow or orange classification.
Residents of cantons classified as orange and yellow zones may use private vehicles between the hours of 0500-2200 Monday-Friday and 0500-2100 Saturday-Sunday. Additionally, individuals driving in orange zones are prohibited from driving on certain days of the week, depending on the last digit of the vehicle's license plate number as indicated below:
- Monday: 1 and 2
- Tuesday: 3 and 4
- Wednesday: 5 and 6
- Thursday: 7 and 8
- Friday: 9 and 0
- Saturday and Sunday: No restrictions on driving
The following cantons are orange zones as of Oct. 19:
- Province of San Jose: San Jose, Santa Ana, Alajuelita, Curridabat and Vazquez de Coronado
- Province of Alajuela: Parts of Alajuela, and San Carlos
- Province of Heredia: Parts of Heredia, Santo Domingo, San Isidro
- Province of Cartago: Oreamuno
- Province of Puntarenas: Montes de Oro, Garabito, and parts of Puntarenas.
- Province of Limon: Limón, Matina, Talamanca
- Province of Guanacaste: Canas
The rest of the country is classified as yellow zones.
Nonessential businesses can operate nationwide, though some businesses may only operate under strict capacity limits. Restaurants, gyms, bars, retail stores, and casinos located inside hotels can operate at 50-percent capacity. Places of worship can conduct services with a maximum of 125 people. Businesses that obtain health sanitary permits from the government may operate Monday through Friday 0500-2200 and between the hours of 0500-2100 on Saturdays and Sundays. Lodging businesses can operate without capacity limits.
Nationwide, all persons must wear protective facemasks that cover the nose and mouth while in indoor public areas and while using public transportation.
Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.
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.