Costa Rican authorities announced on Friday, June 26, that the country's borders will reopen to tourists from certain destinations on August 1 following their closure due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The health ministry stated that international airports will take arrivals from countries deemed to have controlled the spread of COVID-19.
As of Saturday, June 27, parts of the country will enter the third phase of the government's economic reopening plan. Shops, museums, and theatres in these areas may open on weekends; however, they may only operate at 50 percent capacity. Churches may also hold services with more attendees, and beaches can remain open for longer and during weekends. As of Saturday, the wearing of facemasks in many public-facing situations such as using public transport is mandatory. Areas currently under an 'orange alert' will remain under phase two restrictions. These areas include parts of the cantons of Aserrí, Cartago, Curridabat, Desamparados, Escazú, Heredia, Pococí, San Carlos, San José, and Upala.
A nationwide restriction on vehicular movements remains in place between 10:00 (local time) and 05:00. Vehicles with number plates ending in 1 and 2 will not be permitted to circulate on Mondays, those ending in 3 and 4 may not travel on Tuesdays, those ending in 5 and 6 on Wednesdays, 7 and 8 on Thursdays, and 9 and 0 on Fridays. Vehicles ending in even numbers may not circulate on Saturdays between 22:00 and 05:00, whilst odd numbers may not travel between these hours on Sundays. Only essential visits to pharmacies, medical centers, and supermarkets will be permitted during these hours.
Costa Rica extended border closures through Tuesday, June 30. Exceptions are in place for medical or humanitarian reasons, diplomatic staff, and food supply. Costa Rican citizens and legal residents are still allowed to enter; however, anyone who enters the country will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days. Foreign nationals who entered the country after December 17, 2019, are permitted to remain in the country until August 18. Citizens, legal residents, and tourists are still permitted to leave the country. Foreign nationals who left the country after March 24 will not be allowed to re-enter until further notice.
As of Friday, June 26, there have been 2836 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Costa Rica, with 12 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is expected over 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). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
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 respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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