Summary
On Oct. 26, authorities in Costa Rica have eased international travel restrictions as part of the country's response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Foreign travelers will no longer be required to provide a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test prior to entering the country. All travelers are still required to complete the required health affidavit and have sufficient insurance to cover lodging and health expenses.

Currently, nonresident foreign nationals traveling 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 permitted to enter Costa Rica. Beginning Nov. 1, all nonresident foreign nationals, regardless of thier origin country, will be allowed to enter Costa Rica.

Protective face coverings are required at all times while traveling. Ground and maritime borders remain closed for nonresident foreign nationals until at least Nov. 1. 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. 26, 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
  • Saturdayand Sunday: No restrictions on driving

 

The following cantons are orange zones as of Oct. 26:

 

  • Province of San Jose: San Jose, parts of Desamparados, San Cristobal, Alajuelita, Santa Ana
  • Province of Alajuela: Parts of Alajuela, and San Carlos
  • Province of Heredia: Parts of Heredia, San Isidro, Belen, San Pablo, Santa Barbara
  • Province of Cartago: Oreamuno, La Union
  • Province of Puntarenas: Montes de Oro, Garabito, and parts of Puntarenas.
  • Province of Limon: Limón, Matina, Talamanca
  • Province of Guanacaste: La Cruz


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.

 

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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