Coronavirus – COVID-19. The virus that was declared a global pandemic on March 11, 2020 by the World Health Organization has rapidly reached all corners of the world, including Costa Rica.
On March 6, 2020, Costa Rica confirmed their first case of COVID-19. It was an imported case by an American woman who had previously visited Italy and Tunisia before entering Costa Rica on February 29th, 2020. On March 7, 2020, Costa Rica had a total of 5 confirmed cases.
Here is what you need to know about the Costa Rica coronavirus situation.
Costa Rica COVID-19 Confirmed Cases
As of May 7, 2021, Costa Rica has 265,486 cases of COVID-19 (48,009 of those are Por Nexo). Por Nexo is Costa Rica’s method of counting cases without a test. They count people as confirmed cases if a person living in the same household of someone else who has tested positive starts experiencing symptoms.
- 2392 new cases today, 483 of those are Por Nexo
- 3365 fatalities
- 2087 fatalities were men and 1278 were woman, ages 2 – 103
- 1175 people hospitalized, 33 of those in ICU ages 23-89
- 49,596 active cases
- 212,525 recovered
- 31,031 foreigners and 234,455 Costa Ricans
- Age range of a newborn baby to 104 years of total cases
- The first fatality was on March 18, 2020
- Costa Rica has a population of roughly 5.09 million people
On December 15th, Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health has approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination. Seniors that live in nursing homes and first responders received the first vaccine on December 24th. At the end of February, Costa Rica received another shipment of the Pfizer vaccine. They have also received shipments of the AstraZeneca vaccine in mid April and have begun inoculating citizens with that one.
Costa Rica Travel Restrictions
Costa Rica closed their borders on March 18, 2020. The Costa Rican border opened on August 1, 2020 at 11:59 PM via air only.
On November 1, 2020, Costa Rica opened the border to all countries in the world via air.
On April 5, 2021, Costa Rica opened the land borders to Nicaragua and Panama.
Costa Rica Coronavirus Requirements to Enter the Country for Tourists
Costa Rica requires every visitor to complete an epidemiological survey and purchase a travel insurance that will cover medical care for acute illness and accommodation in case of quarantine. This applies to tourists via air and land.
Additionally, all tourists must follow all sanitary measures for the airport and in the country including mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing.
Tourists do not need to do a 14 day quarantine after arriving in Costa Rica.
As of the moment, Costa Rica is not requiring tourists to get vaccinated. Likewise, the travel insurance requirement is not removed for those who have been vaccinated.*
Please read our Costa Rica COVID-19 Travel to read Samantha’s personal experience flying into Costa Rica as a tourist. You can also find out what’s open, what’s closed, restrictions, etc.
Health Pass Survey
The health pass survey is required for all tourists. It has to be filled out 48 hours before flight and you will be given a QR code which you will scan at immigration.
Negative COVID-19 test
This requirement has been removed as of October 26th.
Requirements: The travel insurance must cover a minimum of $50,000 USD for medical expenses in cases of COVID-19 in Costa Rica and a minimum of $2,000 USD for extended lodging expenses due to the pandemic.
Tourists have two options for international travel insurance.
- They may purchase a travel insurance policy from Blue Cross Blue Shield Costa Rica, INS or Sagicor. These are pre-approved insurance guaranteed to be accepted and will cover hospitalizations in a hospital for required time and a minimum of 14 days of lodging.
- They may use their own international travel insurance as long as it fulfills the requirements.
For Those Who Plan to Visit…
If you plan to travel to Costa Rica when the border is open again, please check the recommendations for international travel of your home country. Be respectful of all laws, regulations and rules Costa Rica has put in place whether you agree with it or not as you are a guest in the country. It is a privilege to travel during the pandemic, not a right and you have to be a responsible traveler to protect yourself and others.
Rescheduling Your Trip
If you had to reschedule your trip but not sure for when, the following posts will help you decide.
Orange Alert areas
Currently, Costa Rica is classifying areas as Orange or Yellow Alert areas according to the number of confirmed cases. Orange Alert are areas with an increase number of confirmed cases.
Orange Alert Areas are the following cantons:
San José: Alajuelita, Curridabat, Desamparados, Escazu, Goicoechea, Leon Cortes, Montes de Oca, Moravia, Tibas, Perez Zeledon, San Jose, Santa Ana, Tarrazu, Vazquez de Coronado
Puntarenas: Parrita, Garabito, Montes de Oro and Quepos
Heredia: Barva, Belen, Heredia, San Isidro, San Rafael, Santa Barbara, Santo Domingo
Alajuela: Alajuela, Grecia, Guatuso, Los Chiles, Naranjo, Palmares, Poas, Orotina, San Carlos, San Ramon, Zarcero
Cartago: Cartago, Jimenez, La Union, Paraiso, Turrialba
Limón: Guacimo, Limon, Matina, Pococi, Talamanca
Guanacaste: Carrillo, Nandayure, Santa Cruz
Everywhere else is under Yellow Alert.
Costa Rica Coronavirus Restrictions
As of April 17, 2021, the government has re-implemented nation wide driving restrictions on the weekends due to increase of hospitalizations. Below are the driving restrictions.
- Driving is permitted 5 AM to 9 PM every day of the week
- Nationwide restriction: On Saturdays, vehicles with a license plate ending in an even number can drive (0,2,4.6,8)
- Nationwide restriction: On Sundays, vehicles with a license plate ending in an odd number can drive (1,3,5,7,9)
Monday – Friday: the following driving restrictions apply to the Central Region (San Jose, Alajuela, Cartago and Heredia) for . They are the cantons in the Orange Alert above.
- Monday – Vehicles with last license plate digit ending in 1 and 2 can’t drive.
- Tuesday: Vehicles with last license plate digit ending in 3 and 4 can’t drive.
- Wednesday: Vehicles with last license plate digit ending in 5 and 6 can’t drive.
- Thursday: Vehicles with last license plate digit ending in 7 and 8 can’t drive.
- Friday: Vehicles with last license plate digit ending in 9 and 0 can’t drive.
Rental cars are exempt from driving restrictions as well as people driving to/from hotel reservations and airports. You must have a print out of your flight ticket or hotel reservation.
In addition to the driving restrictions, businesses need to close by 9 PM.
Costa Rica Restrictions for May 2021
Due to the increase of confirmed cases and hospitalizations, there will be some more restrictions in May. Below are the restrictions.
May 3-9: Most non-essential businesses in the Central Region (San Jose, Alajuela, Heredia and Cartago Orange Alert cantons) cannot open. Hotels, supermarkets, bakeries, convenience stores, and lodging may operate during these days. Restaurants inside lodging establishments may operate at a maximum of 50% capacity. Full list found here.
May 10-31: the non-essential businesses can open.
Driving restrictions apply for all of May.
Costa Rica Coronavirus Cases Locations
There are confirmed coronavirus cases in all seven provinces in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica Coronavirus Timeline
- The first confirmed coronavirus case in Costa Rica was on March 6, 2020.
- Costa Rica declared a state of emergency on March 16, 2020.
- The first coronavirus fatality was on March 18th, 2020.
- On March 18, 2020, Costa Rica closed their borders to all foreigners, applying to land, sea and air. Only citizens and residents were allowed to enter.
- On August 2, 2020, Costa Rica opened their international borders via air to certain authorized countries.
- On November 1, 2020, Costa Rica opened their international borders via to all countries in the world.
- Costa Rica created a hospital called CEACO specifically for COVID-19 patients a couple weeks after the first confirmed case.
Is There a Lockdown or Mandatory Quarantine in Costa Rica?
No. Since the beginning, there has never been a country wide lock down in Costa Rica. Costa Rica can’t put something like that in place so the government implements driving restrictions, closures and sanitary measures instead.
Police will give tickets for breaking any sanitary restriction.
Where to Get Information About Coronavirus in Costa Rica
Please check the Ministerio de Salud’s (ministry of health) website for the latest up to date information about coronavirus in Costa Rica. They have also created a website specifically for COVID-19 in Costa Rica (covid19.go.cr). For news updates and reports in English, check Tico TImes.
We also update this post frequently to reflect new major changes and statistics.
Do You Need to Wear a Mask in Costa Rica?
Yes. Costa Rica requires masks for the general public when inside closed spaces (except at home or in hotel room), in supermarkets, convenience stores, stores, airports, public buses, shuttles, trains, theaters, movie theaters, churches, banks, offices and for all public and commercial workers. You also need to wear a mask inside public buses, taxis and at the bus stop.
Likewise, establishments may prohibit anyone from entering if not wearing a masks. You don’t have to wear a mask when walking outside on the street as long as you are 1.8 meters (6 feet) apart from other people but if you are waiting at a bus stop, you do need to wear a mask.
This applies to everyone in Costa Rica, tourist or local.
Face shields are not accepted as the only form for indoor protection. If a face shield is worn, a mask must also be worn.
What It’s Been Like Where We Live (Tamarindo area)
Tamarindo is pretty much like normal now and has been since around September or so since restrictions were lifted. Since the border became completely open in November, we’ve definitely noticed a great increase of tourists, both local and foreign.
Nowadays, it’s packed in Tamarindo on the weekends. It is not quite as busy as December and January since school is back in session but weekends are very busy.
A lot of tourists go to Tamarindo since it’s a popular tourist town and to be honest, it’s quite COVID lax. There are beach parties, live music, bar events, full capacity in businesses, so Tamarindo is definitely very lively and has a lot going on.
As for us, we surf at Tamarindo and sometimes walk our dogs on the beach but that’s about it. That’s pretty much what we did before the pandemic anyways.
We have started doing our own camping and doggie trips instead, finding more local, off the beaten path places to visit. That has become our preferred way to travel and we’re trying to find the best places to go and things to do for tourists who are interested in the same to publish on the blog.
So we’ve outfitted our truck for overlanding and are exploring more off the beaten path destinations. If you’d like to follow along our adventures, follow our Facebook and Instagram to see photos and videos of our travels in Costa Rica! We also started publishing weekly Youtube videos so subscribe to our channel to get new videos every Friday!
Let’s All Do Our Part to Stay Safe and Healthy
Wherever you are in the world, let’s all do our part to stay safe and healthy. We hope to see you in Costa Rica soon though and we greatly appreciate everyone who has rescheduled their trip.