COSTA RICA CALLING – Reopening Details for Summer Adventure Vacations
July 24, 2020 – Check below for recent updates
Costa Rica has announced it will reopen its borders on August 2nd and as adventure seekers from all over the world anticipate details, we thought we’d update you on what’s been happening in our neck of the rainforests.
The COVID-19 crisis has had devastating effects the world over but we’re grateful that Costa Rica has fared remarkably well. The government’s swift response has been obvious, given the modest number of infections and casualties. The reopening of businesses and a return to (a new) normal has been happening for over two months now. As is the case with just about every country, regional differences have meant that whilst some have been able to visit their nearest national parks and enjoy some (socially distanced) adventures, others have had to wait a little longer.
Like everyone involved in the travel industry in Costa Rica, we have also been eagerly awaiting the latest phase of reopening, hoping to soon bring bucketloads of adventure-filled fun to intrepid explorers.
Here’s all you need to know about Costa Rica’s coronavirus battle and the latest updates on reopening dates and details.
How has Costa Rica fared during the COVID-19 crisis?
Costa Rica was one of the first countries to apply a complete lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, effectively shutting its doors merely 12 days after its first infection case was detected and on the day it recorded its first COVID-19 death. Ironically enough, Costa Rica’s first infection was also the first in the Central American region and although other countries have now suffered tremendous losses due to inaction, Costa Rica has managed to keep the spread at bay.
At time of writing, Costa Rica has recorded 24000 cases, over 7800 recoveries with 244 locals passing away.
The country had been planning for the arrival of the virus since January, said President Alvarado, which means Costa Rica, unlike other nations in the region, was not caught unawares.
What kind of easing of restrictions has Costa Rica implemented recently?
Costa Rica’s reluctance to reopen fully has certainly been understandable and the government’s staggered phased plan to reopen businesses and tourist attractions seems to be working well.
By mid-May, the government released re-opening plans which included:
- Vehicle restrictions based on number plates (this is something many Latin American countries ordinarily do to limit emissions in large cities) which involved omitting two numbers between Monday and Friday and up to five numbers on weekend (ie. taken as the last digit on the number plate)
- 50% reduction in visitor number to national parks (with previously purchased entry tickets) – the only parks which reopened on 31st May were Corcovado, Manuel Antonio, Cahuita, Arenal, Rincon de la Vieja, Irazu, Poas, Guayabo, Braulio Carrillo, Los Quetzales and Monteverde
- Only non-contact sporting activities allowed
- Restaurants could operate on weekends – take-away food only
- Small hotels (< 20 rooms) could operate but only at 50% capacity
- Opening of beaches, with social distancing rules in place, between 5 and 8am during the week
- By June, all national parks in the country were allowed to open, albeit at 50% capacity – as were all public parks
- Restaurants were also allowed to open, at 50% capacity
- Museums also reopened, at 50% capacity
- All other hotels were allowed to reopen, also at 50% capacity
- Vehicular restrictions remain in place
Towards the end of June, it was time to reopen cinemas and shops (all at 50% capacity) and bars (at 25% capacity)
- All beaches reopened with social distancing rules in place
- Contact sports can go ahead but spectator crowds are reduced to 20% of venue’s capacity
- Vehicular restrictions remain in place
The new phase of reopening and accompanying restrictions is yet to be fully announced. However, we do know that Costa Rica will reopen to visitors from what it considers low-risk countries.
UPDATES AS THEY HAPPEN:
As of 11.59pm on August 1st, citizens of the following will be welcomed:
- European Union
Travelers will need to hold travel insurance, have completed a medical form online before travelling and present a recent COVID-test result (negative, naturally) upon entry. Your travel agent / airline representative will fill you in on all details.
Only a handful of flights will be allowed in every week so it’s recommended you book your flight to Costa Rica as soon as possible. This staggered and opening of borders will allow Costa Rica to finally welcome tourists once more, whilst gauging the feasibility of further easing of restrictions.
We expect more countries to be included in the list and we shall update this section as announcements are made.
What do we know, for certain?
Although details of the next phase of reopening have not yet been confirmed, the Health Ministry has made it clear that some rules will remain in place, for residents and visitors alike. The government calls these the ‘golden rules’ and they are to be respected by everyone living or visiting Costa Rica for the summer:
- Masks should be worn in all public places, especially on public transport
- Everyone should maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet (1.8m) when out and about
- Kindly abide by any request to have your temperature taken prior to entering an establishment (hotel, restaurant, café, bar etc)
Costa Rica also uses colored emergency alerts, divided up into green, yellow, orange and red. These are mostly used in times of crisis (like expected torrential rains or volcanic eruptions) and they have also been adopted to command the response of COVID-19 measures in differing regions.
The color-coded alerts are perhaps the most important things all visitors to Costa Rica should know – a quick glance at an updated map will tell you which areas of the country are open for tourism at the time you visit and which are not.
Green – The lowest level of emergency alert is meant to be primarily informative. This tells you that a region is open and operational although you should pay close attention to sudden changes
Yellow – In COVID-terms, a yellow code means infections are on the rise and authorities are preparing to take restrictive measures if the situation does not stabilize and/or improve
Orange – The first proactive response begins at regional levels and here you’ll see the first restrictions of crowd numbers, opening times for establishments and the isolation of suspected cases. In many countries, this would be considered a lockdown, with residents only allowed to go out for essential services, like food shopping, doctor visits and whatnot. Masks will now be mandatory in all public places
Red – By the time a red alert has been declared, you can expect the region in question to be in complete lockdown
During this last week of July, several regions are under red alert (San Jose, Alajuela, Puntarenas, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limon and Cartago) whilst the rest of the country is on orange alert.
What to do if you plan to visit Costa Rica as soon as borders open
Once Costa Rica opens its borders to foreign visitors, we will update this post with the latest news. It’s important you are aware of travel restrictions in your home country, first and foremost, before understanding how the new rules in Costa Rica will affect your travel plans.
As of right now, we are unsure if the government will demand a 14-day quarantine for certain nationalities but we’ll be sure to list all restrictions and/or conditions as they’re published by the Ministry of Health and Costa Rican government.
It’s also worth noting that there has never been a complete, countrywide lockdown in place in the country during this entire time. Planning your adventure vacation in Costa Rica, therefore, will be mostly about avoiding certain areas and, instead, exploring and enjoying the lowest-risk areas.
Please feel free to contact us at any time to inquire about the current situation, on the ground. In the meantime, take a look at our adventure vacation tour packages starting in September. We look forward to welcoming you…and so is fabulous Costa Rica!