Costa Rican authorities will begin a phased reopening of the country's economy from Saturday, August 1. President Carlos Alvarado announced a plan on Wednesday, July 29, which will include two phases for areas under orange alert status; with nine days of reopening, followed by 12 days of closure. From Saturday, until Sunday, August 9, businesses and restaurants will be permitted to reopen. Following this, there will be a closure phase between Monday, August 10, and Friday, August 21. From Saturday, August 22, to Sunday, August 30, operations will resume again. Areas and cantons under yellow alert status will reopen and resume operations throughout the month of August. These measures are subject to change dependent on the health situation in the country amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
The National Emergency Commission (CNE), which is responsible for the handling of the COVID-19 crisis, has updated which cantons are designated as orange alert status and yellow alert status. Full details on the designated orange and yellow alert cantons can be found here. Vehicle restrictions will continue in orange alert cantons between 05:00 and 17:00 (local time). In the second closure phase, additional restrictions will be announced. Full details on the vehicular restrictions, which are based on license plate numbers, as well as other restrictions can be found here. Public transportation including taxis and buses can resume operations, with limitations on passenger capacity.
Tourist hotels have already resumed operations. According to media sources, local airports will begin receiving foreign travelers from Europe and Canada from Saturday. Passengers entering the country must have a medical certificate with a negative COVID-19 test result issued up to 48 hours prior to their departure and must have medical insurance issued by a Costa Rican insurance company (this does not apply to Costa Rican nationals/residents). Passengers may also be required to self-quarantine for 14-days. The country's land borders with Nicaragua and Panama will remain closed.
A ban on large gatherings including public shows, public celebrations, entertainment activities in shopping centers, among others, remains in place. Bars, nightclubs, and other entertainment venues, schools, and places of worship also remain closed. Face masks or coverings are compulsory in most indoor situations. The only exceptions are in one's own home and for customers in restaurants. Those with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask or face covering and children under three years of age are not required to comply.
As of Thursday, July 30, there have been confirmed 16,800 cases of COVID-19 in Costa Rica and 133 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhoea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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