This article was updated on 1/13/2021.
Costa Rica has reopened its borders. As of November 1st, 2020, all USA citizens may travel to Costa Rica. If you are traveling to Costa Rica in the future, we have a lot of helpful advice to share about Coronavirus.
Effective 1/26/2021, You must get tested within 3 days of attempting to fly back to the USA from Costa Rica. The CDC has stated that:
“all air passengers arriving to the US from a foreign country to get tested for COVID-19 infection no more than 3 days before their flight departs and to provide proof of the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight.” (source)
Where to get tested in Costa Rica? The US Embassy in Costa Rica has helpful information here. They state:
Testing is available at Hospital La Católica, Hospital Cima, Hospital Metropolitano and Hospital Clinica Biblica as well as the following laboratories located around Costa Rica: LABIN, Echandi, Laboratorio Páez, Laboratorios San José. The cost is around USD 100, and results are typically ready within 24 to 48 hours. Testing is paid for by the individual. (source)
This Google query shows Costa Rica’s COVID-19 total cases and deaths, which is far less than the USA and many other countries. The bottom line is that Costa Rica is still one of the safest “destination” countries to travel, internationally, and its borders will be fully open to USA citizens and visitors from many other countries (source).
In this article:
- How has Costa Rica managed the COVID 19 pandemic?
- What Is the Coronavirus?
- How Many Cases of COVID-19 Are There in Costa Rica?
- Does Costa Rica Have Travel Restrictions Due to Coronavirus?
- Will I Have Trouble Traveling Back to the USA, Canada, or Europe from Costa Rica Due to the Coronavirus?
- How Can I Prevent a Coronavirus Infection?
- Where Can I Monitor the Status of Coronavirus in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica Welcomes You Back
The team at Costa Rica Escapes produced this inspirational video letting travelers know that we welcome you back to this beautiful country now that Costa Rica has reopened its borders.
- Costa Rica’s borders are now open to select international regions (source). Prior to September 2020, only Costa Ricans could enter the country, and they needed to be quarantined for 14 days (source). These restrictions have been partially lifted.
- Helpful articles and sources:
- U.S. citizens, especially with underlying conditions, should not travel by cruise ship
- Be aware that international jetliners are equipped with High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, similar to those used in hospital operating rooms.
- Spending time outdoors in a country like Costa Rica is considered safer than spending time indoors in crowded situations, especially in higher-risk countries. If you’re in Costa Rica, get outside!
- Costa Rica suspends mass gatherings in face of coronavirus (source)
- Find more information from the CDC, Costa Rica Ministry of Health, Tico Times, and this WSJ article.
First, know that the Costa Rican government initiated the preventative protocol to detect, contain, and stop the spread of any possible cases of COVID-19 in the country as early as mid-January 2020. This action followed the alerts by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Since then, every airport, border, public and private clinics, hospitals, schools, and any significant events, under the leadership of the Ministry of Health and other government institutions, implemented specific guidelines to identify any possible case of the virus that could enter the country. Costa Rica was ready to apply a rigorous protocol to confirm the case and isolate the infected person. The country’s borders are now open again to select international regions.
How has Costa Rica managed the COVID 19 pandemic?
As American Citizens and Costa Rican Permanent Residents, our family (and many other USA families) lived through the majority of the global pandemic in Costa Rica. Thus far, it is of our opinion that the Costa Rican government and the local authorities have taken a very proactive role to help in the prevention of the spread of COVID-19.
As many countries have done, mask mandates, social distancing, and new sanitary measures and practices are being taught and implemented countrywide. Costa Ricans are working together to cooperate in these efforts and progress is being made. Health officials are issuing daily press briefings keeping the public informed on the facts and statistics about COVID 19 within their borders.
These briefings also allow a forum for important messages to be announced and passed on as more information, policies and news becomes available to the people. This daily campaign, run by the government’s healthcare system (CCSS), is a consistent and continuous flow of mutually beneficial information for preventative techniques available to the public. The information is provided by means of radio, television, and especially social media.
Very early on in the pandemic, the Costa Rican government issued strict curfews and driving restrictions for its citizens, residents, and visitors. They required the closure of almost all public spaces and ordered many businesses and most other public areas to shut down. Essential work was identified, defined, and allowed to continue functioning while less or non-essential businesses were given restrictions and guidelines to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.
Costa Rica’s Center of Disease Investigation INCIENSA has had laboratory testing for diagnosing COVID-19 since early in February. On March 15, the health department ordered the closure of all nightlife, social, and gym establishments such as work-out facilities, gyms, bars, casinos, nightclubs, public swimming pools & amusement parks. Throughout the process, Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health has issued and updated guidelines for local businesses specifying proper cleaning and sanitary procedures
In late April 2020, Costa Rican authorities began a four-phase re-opening plan. Each phase gradually opened more businesses and services, while implementing strict sanitary and capacity guidelines enforced by local authorities. One of the final steps within the re-opening plan is to open the borders to the country’s vital International Travel & Tourism markets.
Due to the success of the re-opening plan coupled with the fact that the country’s healthcare system is being managed well and not being overwhelmed, as of November 1, 2020, the borders of Costa Rica are open to all foreign visitors with specific entry requirements in place.
Very precise and careful thought was given to each of these requirements to ensure that proper measures and techniques would be in place to manage the increase in exposure. These not only assist the country of Costa Rica to manage the virus but were also created to provide the most amount of support and safety to future visitors.
So as to not overwhelm the emergency services of 911, a complimentary hotline dedicated to questions surrounding the Coronavirus was created for the citizens, residents, and visitors of Costa Rica. Hospitals have detailed protocols in place to manage and diagnose patients showing or describing symptoms. A dedicated COVID-19 hospital was set-up in the capital of San Jose. The public health system has expanded its capacity of intensive care beds and continues these efforts. . These alerts come with increased restrictions.
Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health has intelligently implemented contact tracing techniques that helps the country limit the spread of active cases throughout the country. They also required face masks or face shields in all indoor spaces, excluding when people are home or dining out (restaurant staff must still wear them). Beginning September 9th, 2020, a requirement stated that masks specifically must be worn in all those spaces.
What Is the Coronavirus?
According to the World Health Organization, “Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses found in both animals and humans. Some infect people and are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).” (source)
The particular coronavirus (COVID-19) that has the entire world population so vigilant is a new strain that was detected first in the city of Wuhan, China, in late 2019.
The problem is that this new virus had already (by January 2020) caused over 200 deaths and close to 10,000 people infected in not only China but also in over 20 other countries around the world, including the USA and Germany.
COVID-19 can seem like the regular flu at the beginning, with symptoms like fever, cough, difficulty breathing, and muscular pain. The WHO says, “As with other respiratory illnesses, infection with COVID-19 can cause mild symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever. It can be more severe for some people and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties. More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as diabetes and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.” (source)
How Many Cases of COVID-19 Are There in Costa Rica?
This Google query shows Costa Rica’s COVID-19 total cases and deaths, which is far less than the USA and many other countries.
Daniel Salas, Costa Rica’s Health Minister, is in charge of the country’s protocol to limit the spread of the virus on Costa Rican soil as much as possible.
“We emphasize to the population that we are working under the scheme of the national risk system which has proven to be efficient both today and in the past when we face H1N1 and SARS-CoV,” said Salas on a press release early February 2020.
Does Costa Rica Have Travel Restrictions Due to Coronavirus?
Costa Rica’s borders are now open to select international regions (source), and open to all USA citizens as of November 1st, 2020. Prior to September 2020, only Costa Ricans could enter the country, and they needed to be quarantined for 14 days (source). These restrictions have been partially lifted.
Airports, airlines, and border officials had implemented the strict guidelines created by the Costa Rican Ministry of Health to identify, isolate, and follow suspicious cases that might enter the country (from Costa Rica citizens/residents who are the only population who may enter the country as of March 16th, 2020).
Will I Have Trouble Traveling Back to the USA, Canada, or Europe from Costa Rica Due to the Coronavirus?
Back in early March, you would not have had trouble traveling back to the USA, Canada, or Europe from Costa Rica due to the Coronavirus, as of mid-February 2020. However, the country closed its borders through the summer and has been gradually reopening borders since August/September 2020 to international travelers in selection regions.
How Can I Prevent a Coronavirus Infection?
Hygiene is the best ally you can have to prevent not only a coronavirus infection, but any other virus or bacterial infection. (source)
It is essential that you wash your hands as often as possible. When you come from the supermarket, bank, or any other errand, when your kids come back from school, after you go to the bathroom, etc. The bottom line is you should wash your hands all the time because even if you have not been in immediate contact with a sick person, an infected person could have been where you were. You can get the virus or bacteria by bringing your contaminated hands to your mouth, eyes, or nose.
Another critical practice has to do with sneezing and coughing hygiene. The WHO advises when coughing and sneezing, you should cover your mouth with the flexed elbow or a tissue. One common lousy practice when sneezing or coughing is to cover our mouth with our hands. By doing so, you can spread viruses by touching objects or people.
After sneezing and coughing, it is always important to wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand rub. If you use a tissue, discard it immediately.
The third thing you must do to prevent infection by viruses and bacteria is to handle and cook meat products properly and thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables.
Also, if you know of someone that is sick and has been close to an infected area or person, keep your distance and report it to the authorities. If you have any of the symptoms and have any doubts about your health, seek medical attention promptly. In general, practice “social distancing” during this pandemic.
Where Can I Monitor the Status of Coronavirus in Costa Rica?
Consult official sources to know where COVID-19 has been reported in Costa Rica. We’ll keep this article as up-to-date as possible, but remember that this is a global problem and it can change from day-to-day.
The Ministry of Health is the authority in Costa Rica that officially releases any verified information regarding COVID-19 in Costa Rica. Please visit the ministry’s website to access the most up-to-date reports and guidelines regarding the spread of this virus inside Costa Rican borders.
John Rabenau has been working in the eco-tourism & adventure travel industry in Costa Rica since 2002. He has worked in a variety of capacities from Outdoor Educator & Principle Guide to Itinerary Design Manager & Business Owner for numerous organizations. He has grown Costa Rica Escapes into one of the most reputable Costa Rica travel agencies since its creation in 2006, hosting more than 5,000 people with custom vacation itineraries.