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 August 11th, 2020

We will be updating this post once a week as new information emerges. 

Restrictions Traveling to Costa Rica

plane to costa rica

Currently, Costa Rica air borders are only open to people coming from the EU Schengen area, UK, and Canada.

Land borders currently remain closed.

In order to travel to Costa Rica from one of the allowed areas you must have:

-Travel insurance which covers you for COVID-19

– A negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of flying

– Complete a health form created by the Costa Rican Health Ministry.

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 to the US have been departing from San Jose and arriving in Houston. From there it is possible to fly to your home state.

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

palm trees on uvita beach

Costa Rica is currently in a closed phase until August 21st.

At the moment the restrictions in yellow areas are…..

– Beaches will only be open between 5am and 2:30pm every day.

-All open air tourism businesses are open

-28 national parks and protected wildlife areas have reopened to the public. These include popular tourist attractions such as Manuel Antonio National Park and Poas Volcano.

-Hotels can operate at 50% capacity.

-Businesses with sanitary permits (such as restaurants, stores, bars etc) can reopen at 50% capacity between 5am and 10pm.

-Places of worship conduct services with limited capacity.

-Non-contact sports are permitted.

-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.

The restrictions in the orange area are….

-Only essential businesses are open. This includes grocery stores, pharmacies, funeral homes, doctor offices, food delivery services, and child care faciitities.

Driving Restrictions

There are ongoing strict driving regulations from within Costa Rica as a measure to slow the spread of COVID-19. 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 in yellow areas:

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 permitted between 15am and 9pm.

Taxis are operating for anyone who needs one.

Public buses are operating but at a limited capacity.

Here are the current restrictions in orange areas:

Mondays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 1 and 2 can drive to essential businesses. License plates ending in all other numbers need to stay home.

Tuesdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 3 and 4 can drive to essential businesses. License plates ending in all other numbers need to stay home.

Wednesdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 5 and 6 can drive to essential businesses. License plates ending in all other numbers need to stay home.

Thursdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 7 and 8 can drive to essential businesses. License plates ending in all other numbers need to stay home.

Fridays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 9 and 0 can drive to essential businesses. License plates ending in all other numbers need to stay home.

Saturdays: License plates ending in odd numbers can drive to grocery stores, pharmacies and health facilities.

Sundays: License plates ending in even numbers can drive to grocery stores, pharmacies and health facilities.

Between 5pm and 5am nobody is allowed to drive at all during the week and on the weekend.

-These driving restrictions do not apply to people operating a rental car as a tourist.

How Costa Rica is Handling the Virus

la fortuna waterfall

The Costa Rica government and the health ministry have been doing a good 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.

Unfortunately, Coronavirus case numbers have started to increase as the government has eased up a bit on restrictions.

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. 

The government tried to encourage in country tourism to boost up some businesses but unfortunately this seemed to result in a spike in cases.

The Institute of Costa Rica Tourism (ICT) has been pushing the government to give an exact date of reopening borders to tourists. Since March the government has continuously been pushing the opening date by a few weeks at a time.

This has been hard for companies because they don’t know when to rehire their staff and get everything ready for guests again.

This has been hard for employees because they just want to know when the might be making a liveable income again.

It is a good start that European, UK, and Canadian citizens are now allowed into the country, but most of the income from tourism comes from US visitors. Also, with limited numbers of flights allowed into the country each week, it hasn’t done much to help most companies in the tourism industry.

Costa Rica Coronavirus Cases

montezuma beach view

As of August 11th, Costa Rica has had 23,872 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus disease total. There are currently 15,801 active cases.

There have been 84 deaths in total included in the death toll.

Costa Rica cases have been increasing in the past few weeks as things slowly reopen around the country.

There were 586 newly reported cases on August 10th and there are currently 388 people in the hospital for COVID-19 treatment. 84 of those patients are in intensive care.

The majority of cases in Costa Rica have been in the San Jose area followed by the Alajuela area. Note that these are also the most densely populated areas of the country.

Should You Change Your Trip Plans?

santa teresa airbnb

If you plan to arrive in Costa Rica from a non-EU country within the next month or two it is best to cancel or delay your trip. As of now, we have no idea when Costa Rica will open to other countries.

I think it could be a while before US citizens are allowed to reenter due to high case numbers.

That is just my speculation though. We will just have to wait until the government announces in the future.

If your trip is scheduled for later in the fall 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. Case numbers are rising and tourism will stir some of that up even more.

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).

We recommend World Nomads for travel insurance. They will cover COVID-19 related illnesses.

How We Are Dealing with Coronavirus

us on motorbike

Thomas and I are doing OK. Just taking it day by day, as we all seem to be doing right now.

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 was definitely difficult being apart from each other. And we miss our home and our life in Costa Rica so much.

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?”

However, we are now back together! Thomas was able to fly to the US on July 28th. We were really nervous if he would be allowed to board the plane or even enter the US, but he made it! He was questioned a lot by the airlines and border control, but with our original marriage certificate, an English copy of it, pictures of my passport info page, and a letter I wrote confirming he was staying with me; they let him in.

Yeay!

We then flew back to Germany and are staying with Thomas’s parents until further notice.

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 eventuallyy.

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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1 COMMENT

  1. Thanks for the update and best wishes to you and your family! I’m definitely looking forward to visiting CR (and staying longer to make up for lost beach time 🙂 ). Not sure of the exact date – I obviously don’t want to be bring any unwelcome germs with me! But hopefully early 2021!

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