Traveling to Costa Rica during Covid-19: what you need to know before you go

If you plan to Trip in Costa Rica, here’s what you need to know and expect if you want to visit during the global coronavirus pandemic.

The basics

Costa Rica opened to tourism in November. The country has eased restrictions in recent weeks and plans to create a digital nomadic visa to attract visitors who will make a lasting contribution to the local economy.

However, a new wave of the virus is taking off, with hospitals now “dangerously full”.

What’s on offer

Costa Rica is known for its “pura vida” (pure life) and, apart from the pandemic, la vida is still pura here. It is a country for nature lovers, with both a Caribbean and Pacific coast, and a jungle covering around a quarter of the country. Whether you are here for the cloud forests, volcanoes, or the incredible nature and wildlife, your shoulders will definitely drop a few inches. Most visitors pass through the capital San José as just a passing point, but it is a beautiful city, with stunning architecture, public art, and museums.

Who can go

Everyone. Costa Rica opened its doors – even for tourism – on November 1, 2020. However, there are of course restrictions. And standard visa regulations still apply.

What are the restrictions?

There is no need for a negative Covid-19 PCR test result as it was initially. All passengers must complete a Health pass before the journey. The website gives out a QR code which you must show upon arrival.

Tourists traveling to Costa Rica must have valid travel insurance, which covers possible quarantine accommodation up to $ 2,000 and medical costs of at least $ 50,000 related to Covid-19. This must be accompanied by a certificate in English or Spanish, indicating the name of the policyholder, the dates of cover and the guarantees as stipulated above.

If you are unable to purchase a policy that includes quarantine insurance, suggested insurers are available on the Health Pass website.

Residents and Costa Rican nationals may be subject to self-isolation upon arrival.

The land borders, which had been closed to non-residents, reopened on April 5 to visitors who do not need a visa. The 14-day quarantine for people entering by land was also abolished as of April 5.

American CDC classifies the risk in Costa Rica as “very high” and states that US citizens should “avoid all travel to Costa Rica”. Even fully vaccinated travelers are at risk of catching variants, he says.

What is the Covid situation?

Costa Rica has recorded just under 280,000 cases and 3,514 deaths during the pandemic as of May 14. However, the number of cases is increasing rapidly – after doubling in April.

According to the government, the past two weeks have seen record infection rates, with nearly 17,000 new cases recorded in the week through May 14. The same week also saw a record 173 deaths. On April 28, authorities warned that patients had to wait for hospital beds; there is now 432 Covid patients in intensive care nationwide, well beyond the optimal maximum number of 359. This is the most comprehensive services have been to date during the pandemic.

May 5 PAHO – the Pan American Health Organization – has warned that hospitals in the region are “dangerously full”.

Along with Mexico, it was one of the first countries in Latin America to receive vaccines in December. Almost 1.1 million doses of vaccination have been administered to date, with a total of 8.65% of the population fully vaccinated.

What can visitors expect?

Things are returning to relative normal. National parks and beaches are open – the latter until 6 p.m. Restaurants and bars have reopened, but clubs haven’t, and concerts and large groups are prohibited. However, businesses must close at 11 p.m.

There is a nighttime curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Travel restrictions, which had ended, were brought back in an attempt to stabilize infection rates. This is done via the license plates. On Mondays, cars with plates ending in 1 or 2 cannot be used. On Tuesday, cars with plates ending in 3 or 4 cannot be driven. The ban is extended to plates ending in 5 or 6 on Wednesday, 7 or 8 on Thursday and 9 or 0 on Friday.

Now, cars with number plates ending in odd numbers cannot be used on Saturdays, and cars with even numbers (including 0s) are prohibited on Sundays. This is in addition to regulations in the capital San José, where congestion reduction restrictions are the norm anyway. There is an additional curfew every night from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.

The beaches are open from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. National parks allow a capacity of 50%. Concerts, discos, fairs and other large gatherings are prohibited.

In a recovery attempt, the country plans to deploy one year visas for digital nomads, with the possibility of renewal for one more year. Currently there is a 90 day limit on tourist stays. Applicants will be able to take their families with them and will not be subject to income tax. Digital nomads have flocked to Costa Rica These last months.

Authorities did not roll back new restrictions for Easter week, traditionally a peak travel time, but instead urged citizens play it safe. Instead, they suggested people go to national parks, where they can be safer outside while contribute to restarting the tourism sector.

Although the number of cases is increasing, tourists continue to come. Dutch airline KLM announced he will resume direct flights June 29.

Useful links

Visit Costa Rica


The Tico Times

Our recent coverage

In August, Costa Rica was one of the first countries to allow Americans entry, opening up to visitors from six US states. Or read about it reforestation project for large green macaws. Ready to book? Check what to do in San José.

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