On Oct. 15, authorities in Costa Rica will ease certain business and international travel restrictions implemented as part of the country's effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Effective Oct. 15, travelers from Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Belize will be permitted to enter Costa Rica.

Nonresident foreign nationals from Canada, the UK, and EU countries, are allowed to travel to Costa Rica, but must provide a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival.

In addition to a negative PCR test, US travelers are required to complete an online health declaration form prior to arrival and have proof of health insurance, adequate quarantine accommodations in Costa Rica, and ability to cover medical expenses. Beginning Oct. 15, travelers from the US states of Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, California, Ohio, Vermont, Virginia, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, Michigan, Texas, Georgia, and Rhode Island are permitted to travel to Costa Rica. Travel from all remaining US states will be permitted starting Nov. 1.

Protective face coverings are required at all times while traveling. Costa Rican citizens and legal residents are allowed to enter the country but must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Air, ground, and maritime freight transport and humanitarian operations are not affected by these restrictions.

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. 14, all cantons in Costa Rica fall under either the yellow or orange classification. No cantons have received the green or red designations. Specific measures vary based on local disease activity. Given their lower incidence of disease activity, yellow zones have fewer movement and business restrictions than orange zones.

Residents of cantons classified as orange and yellow zones may use private vehicles between the hours of 0500-2200 Monday-Friday and 0500-2000 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: 0, 2, 4, 6, 8
  • Sunday: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9


The following cantons are orange zones; however, changes to the classification of cantons are possible with little-to-no notice:
 

  • 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, parts of central Puntarenas, Barranca, Chacarita, and El Roble
  • Province of Limon: Limón, Matina, Talamanca
  • Province of Guanacaste: Canas


The rest of the country is classified into yellow zones.

Nonessential businesses can operate nationwide, though some businesses can 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 0500-2000 on Saturdays and Sundays. Lodging businesses can operate without capacity limits.

Nationwide, all persons must wear protective face coverings that cover the nose and mouth while in indoor public areas and while using public transportation. Restaurants may continue delivery and pickup services. All businesses may operate with employees working from home.

Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.

 

Advice
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.

 

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