I know, at this point we are all exhausted from hearing about Coronavirus. Unfortunately, this is our reality at the moment, so we decided it was important to keep you all updated on Coronavirus in Costa Rica and how it may alter your travel plans.
Last Updated May 21th
We will be updating this post once a week as new information emerges.
Restrictions Traveling to Costa Rica
Currently, Costa Rica borders are closed to all non-citizens until June 15th. This applies to people attempting to fly into the country as well as people attempting to cross the Central American land borders from Panama and Nicaragua.
Costa Rican citizens that return to Costa Rica are required to quarantine for 14 days.
Foreign citizens that are currently in Costa Rica should contact their embassy in Costa Rica to ask about repatriation flights. I know that the US Embassy has been putting on repatriation flights back to the United States every few weeks.
Just note, you are not required to leave as a foreign citizen. Costa Rica has been extending the residency of any people stuck in Costa Rica. You will not be punished for remaining in the country as a tourist at this time.
The previous repatriation flights have been departing from San Jose and arriving in Houston. From there it is possible to fly to your home state. Just note, you do have to pay for these flights.
Keep in mind that if you return to your home country you will not be allowed back in Costa Rica until borders reopen.
Restrictions Within the Country
Costa Rica had some very strict rules going on for a while, however, they are slowly starting to ease restrictions. Currently, the government is working towards a slow reopening plan.
Until June 1st the restrictions are…..
– Beaches will only be open between 5am and 8am.
-Hotels with less than 20 rooms can open at 50% capacity.
-Non-contact sports are permitted.
-Businesses with sanitary permits (such as restaurants, stores, bars etc) can reopen at 50% capacity between 5am and 10pm.
-Professional contact sports can restart play.
-Barber shops and hair salons can reopen at 50% capacity between 5am and 7pm.
-Auto shops can reopen at 50% capacity between 5am and 7pm.
-Movie theaters can reopen but each visitor must sit two meters apart.
Below is the current reopening plan that was published by the government. Keep in mind that it does state that these plans could change if cases start to increase again.
There are ongoing strict driving regulations from within Costa Rica. Just note, if you are a foreigner with a foreign license in Costa Rica you are currently allowed to drive.
Typically, tourists would only be allowed to operate a vehicle for up to three months, but this has been extended due to the current situation.
Here are the current restrictions:
Mondays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 1 and 2 cannot drive. License plates ending in all other numbers can drive as needed.
Tuesdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 3 and 4 cannot drive. License plates ending in all other numbers can drive as needed.
Wednesdays: License plates ending in 5 and 6 cannot drive. License plates ending in all other numbers can drive as needed.
Thursdays: License plates ending in 7 and 8 cannot drive. License plates ending in all other numbers can drive as needed.
Fridays: License plates ending in 9 and 0 cannot drive. License plates ending in all other numbers can drive as needed.
Saturdays: License plates ending in even numbers cannot drive except to visit grocery stores, pharmacies and health facilities.
Sundays: License plates ending in odd numbers cannot drive except to visit grocery stores, pharmacies and health facilities.
Driving is not permitted between 10pm and 5am unless with a valid reason.
Taxis are operating for anyone who needs one.
Public buses are operating but at a limited capacity.
How Costa Rica is Handling the Virus
The Costa Rica government and health ministry have been doing an excellent job (in my opinion) of tackling COVID-19 from the start. Borders were closed on March 18th when case numbers were still very low. Since then the government has altered regulations to reflect the constantly changing situation.
These measures to slow the spread have worked very well. In the next section of this article, I get into the current case numbers.
However, keep in mind that this has hit the economy hard. Tourism accounts for over 12% of the country’s GDP. No tourism equals no income for tourism companies during what is typically the busiest time of year for the travel industry.
Also, keep in mind that places like restaurants, grocery stores, etc. are not considered part of the tourism industry, but are also badly affected by the lack of travelers.
I have talked to the managers of several hotels, transportation companies, and tour companies and most have had to lay off almost all of their employees. The ones who are staying on are mostly working in maintenance or processing refunds for canceled trips.
This is obviously rough for everyone, but a necessary action to control the spread of the virus.
Costa Rica Coronavirus Cases
As of May 10th, Costa Rica has had 897 confirmed cases of Coronavirus total. The number of people who have recovered is currently 582. This now surpasses the active cases at 305.
There have been 10 deaths in total included in the death toll.
Costa Rica cases have been decreasing in recent weeks. On May 20th there were only fifteen new registered cases.
Should You Change Your Trip Plans?
If you plan to arrive in Costa Rica before June 15th you will have to cancel or delay your trip because the border will not be opened by then.
We are not overly optimistic that the borders will actually open on June 15th. In fact, the Costa Rican Health Minister, Daniel Salas, even stated that it is likely that border restrictions will be extended.
Maybe things will change, but opening borders right now seems like it will flood the country with a world of problems that they have done so well to contain. However, maybe I am entirely wrong.
If your trip is scheduled for later in the summer or beyond, I suggest contacting any hotels, transportation, activities etc. that you have booked and check in with their cancellation policies. Most companies have been very lenient, but we also don’t want you to miss the deadline for canceling any plans and not getting your money back.
If a company is not willing to reimburse you, ask about delaying your plans instead.
I have talked to a lot of travelers that are just kind of waiting and seeing how things develop. If that is possible for you, then definitely go for it!
When Costa Rica travel does resume that does not necessarily mean it is a safe place to be in regards to Coronavirus. Although case numbers are low, tourism will stir some of that up.
We suggest canceling your trip if you are at high risk and are concerned in any capacity regarding your health.
Also, we always suggest purchasing travel insurance, but this applies now more than ever. Not only is it important for health care reasons but travel insurance also covers things like canceled flights (which could definitely be an issue for a while).
Typically we recommend World Nomads travel insurance, but they are not currently selling travel insurance due to everything going on.
How We Are Dealing with Coronavirus
I’m going to be completely transparent here.
Thomas and I are doing OK. Just taking it day by day, as we all seem to be doing right now. Thomas is currently in Germany with his parents and I am in the US with my family.
We flew from our home in Costa Rica in early-March because Thomas had a prior work commitment and I decided to use that time to visit my family. We were aware that things had the potential of getting crazy while we were away, but decided it was best to be with our parents.
We also brought our marriage certificates with hopes that it would help us to get to each other if necessary. I did try to fly to Germany once early on after borders were closed but I was denied. Even as an immediate family member of a German citizen I needed a valid reason, which I did not have. I guess the fact that I like being with my husband isn’t a valid enough excuse.
It is definitely difficult being apart from each other. And we miss our home and our life in Costa Rica so much. However, in the long run, I think we are both accepting how things turned out. I would hate to be in Costa Rica and know that we couldn’t just hop on a plane and get back to our families if necessary.
Our families are fortunately healthy and so happy that we are with them. I think my mom put it best when she said to me, “When else will I get to be working from home for several months and get to hang out with you every day?”
Hopefully we can get back to Costa Rica or reunite in one of our home countries soon.
The Costa Rica Vibes website income has also been hit hard. Without foreign travelers visiting Costa Rica we have no income from the site. However, we are optimistic that we will bounce back from this.
It has been nice to have this downtime to reflect and act on what we can do to make our site experience even better for you all once we can all start traveling again.
Basically, looking at the positive side of things is keeping us going.
We will all get through this. We will all come out stronger. We will all travel again. And I think we will all appreciate it that much more.
Stay safe. Stay positive. We’ve got this! It will be such a great day we can welcome you all to Costa Rica once again. 🙂
If you have any questions about planning your trip to Costa Rica during all of this Coronavirus pandemic craziness, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section below and we will get back to you as soon as possible. We are always happy to help you!
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