With coastlines extending from the Caribbean to the Pacific, Costa Rica is a country that is oozing with nature and natural charm. Its nature-clad beauty and numerous adventure activities are the major attractions that draw in tourists from across the globe. From mesmerising volcanoes such as Volcan Arenal to calming waterfalls like the La Leona Waterfall in Guanacaste, Costa Rica is a treat for nature fanatics.
Though the covid wave hit the country pretty hard, the influx of travellers has more or less caught up to the pre-pandemic level. However, covid hasn’t finished yet, and some restrictions still apply to tourists cum visitors. So, if you are interested in visiting Costa Rica during the pandemic, this is your guide to everything you need to know!
What is the Covid situation in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica has faced quite a lot of challenges during Covid, with approximately 820 thousand cases and more than 8000 deaths reported as of 9th March 2022. The number of cases saw a marked rise between April to August last year falling subsequently with time. Costa Rica was hit pretty bad by the Omicron variant with a record spike of 40,000+ new cases (in a week) as of 4th February compared to the previous peak of 17,000+ as of September 2021.
The cases have been on a gradual decline ever since, implying that the peak has passed already.
As for the vaccination status, Costa Rica was among the first Latin American countries to receive vaccines by the end of 2020 with nearly 9 million doses of vaccination already administered, covering nearly 80% of the population as per the local data, dating March 9th.
Requirements to be fulfilled by the travellers
Costa Rica is open to all international tourists and travellers. There’s no obligation for the travellers to possess a negative Covid Test Report. You’re just required to meet all the visa-related requirements, and to go through the established pandemic related framework,
The major requirements that must be fulfilled in the pandemic framework include:
A digital form called the HEALTH PASS
The health pass is easily accessible via any browser except the Internet Explorer. It is mandatory to complete the digital health pass at least 3 days (72 hours) before you arrive in Costa Rica. All tourists without any exception, are required to complete their health pass and the vaccinated individuals should attach a copy of their vaccination card/certificate with it.
A Travel Policy
A travel insurance policy is another requirement that the tourists must fulfil except for the fully vaccinated individuals (the last dose being at least two weeks before entering the country) and minors.
However, there have been some updates regarding the above-mentioned policies. As of March 7th, the health pass requirement has been abolished for the Costa Ricans with no change for the tourists.
From April 1st, 2022 onwards, the country is determined to eliminate both the health pass requirement and the travel policy requirement for all travellers. Though not a necessity now, a travel policy can help you tackle the lodging as well as medical expenses in case you happen to contract Covid and hence is strongly recommended.
Last but not the least, the tourists are required and requested to follow the necessary sanitary rules and protocols established by the country.
What comes after you test positive for covid 19?
If you experience mild symptoms
If you feel sick or think your symptoms resemble that of covid, you are requested to isolate yourself and give a call to 1322. You can then head to your nearest healthcare facility and get tested for the same.
In case of severe infection
If your condition has worsened and requires hospitalisation, you can call 911 or have someone you know take you to the hospital. Costa Rica provides a proper covid-19 hospitalisation facility to everyone who requires attention irrespective of their vaccination status or immigration status.
In case you want to return to your own country
If you take a test while leaving for your country and test positive, you will not be allowed to board your plane. In such a case your test report will be forwarded to the health Ministry of Costa Rica, which will then issue a mandatory health order extending your stay for an additional 7 to 14 days depending on the severity of the infection. During this period you’ll be required to find a suitable lodging or room and quarantine yourself with full compliance through the entire duration. All the costs and expenses will have to be managed by you on your own. Also, tourists don’t have to worry about being penalized for overstaying their visa due date as there will be no penalty.
In case a person in your group tests positive?
The same rules apply to any person who tests positive in your group. They won’t be allowed to board the flight and will be issued and asked to obey the stay-at-home order. However, if the said person tests negative within a certain time frame, they are allowed to board their flight and leave for their home.
What to expect while travelling?
The Costa Rican government has taken on the responsibility of reopening all the public venues and platforms to get its pre-lockdown glory back on track. Night curfews have been withdrawn as of March 7 and the various driving restrictions that were imposed have been lifted.
As for the public places, the latest update allows people to fill most of the venues to their full capacity such as restaurants, hotels, museums, etc provided they have vaccination proof, be it via QR Code scanning or showing a printed copy of their vaccination certificate. There’s no such requirement for minors. For the platforms that do not check the QR Codes, only 50% attendance is allowed with a few exceptions being National Parks, Beaches, etc.
However, the government plans on lifting all the remaining restrictions from April 1st and allowing all outdoor platforms to host public gatherings to their full capacity irrespective of the vaccination status!
Maintaining the social distancing
Costa Rica has adopted and encouraged everyone to use and practice the ‘Social Bubble’ philosophy. The government encourages everyone to stick to their personal social bubble which includes your family, people you live with, and in the case of travellers, the people you’re travelling with.
To ensure maximum compliance, public establishments such as restaurants, beaches, etc have partitioned and separated their common public areas into small social bubbles. Many public venues have been practising similar social distancing practices and you all are required to abide by these.
Is it necessary to mask up?
A one-word answer to this question would be, Yes! The Costa Rican government has necessitated everyone including the natives and tourists to wear a mask irrespective of their vaccination statuses.
You must be wearing a mask while availing any form of public transport or going to any public place, including shopping complexes, healthcare facilities, movie theaters, banks, and more. The only mask-free zones are your houses, hotel rooms, and streets provided, you follow the proper social distancing guidelines. The establishments hold the power to restrict your entry if you’re found without a mask!
Covid guidelines are ever-changing and are subject to various updates depending on the situation in the country and worldwide. Though it is best to avoid travelling until the pandemic is truly over, we all know it isn’t possible for everyone.
So, if you cannot avoid travelling, it’s important to keep yourself updated with the latest guidelines concerning travel restrictions and requirements to be fulfilled to gain entry. We try our best to keep our information up to date and in sync with the latest guidelines from the authorities. In case of any query, you can browse through the frequently asked questions by first-time visitors to understand more about the travel guidelines and all the dos and don’ts.