In a remarkable turn of events, as coronavirus cases continue to drop across most of the Caribbean, Costa Rica may be the next country ending most internal restrictions and returning to pre-pandemic normality. While it did not impose overly strict curbs on social life like other nations, it did introduce a package of measures aimed at halting the Omicron variant.
As the public grows wary after two years of pandemic management, and national governments seem more keen than ever on finding ways to live with the virus as opposed to eradicating it, visitors might soon find themselves in a freer Costa Rica.
Most Internal Restrictions Could End In The Next Few Weeks
After bearing the brunt of the Omicron wave, Costa Rica seems ready to de-escalate and allow more social freedoms once more, after President Carlos Alvarado confirmed the current measures will likely be “eliminated” soon, including the vehicular restriction. Although he did not offer a precise date, Mr. Alvarado did mention it might be happening in the next couple of weeks.
With the average number of new daily infections falling by more than 2,400 over the previous 3 weeks, or only 42% of the peak, there is an even higher chance the present measures could be rolled back. In light of the recent data, the President inferred the situation is “likely to improve”, rendering most current restrictions “unnecessary”.
Elaborating on his comments, Mr. Alvarado mentioned hospital capacity as one of the “main factors” to be analyzed by experts at this stage. Throughout the pandemic, the situation in hospitals and intensive care units, and whether they are strained or not, has been considered by governments when assessing what actions need to be taken.
On that note, Covid deaths in Costa Rica are also going down, albeit slightly, and its vaccination rates rank among the highest in the Caribbean, with over 84% of the locals vaccinated. Still, general units continue to be fully occupied, presenting a challenge to the expected post-pandemic reality, as reported by Tico Times.
When pressed for an answer on when exactly all restrictions would be lifted, the President said “the majority of health measures against Covid-19 will be lifted before the end of the government’s term.” The next Costa Rican election is due to culminate on April 3 with a presidential runoff, suggesting Covid mandates might not survive the summer months.
What About Health Measures At The Border?
While the vehicular curfew will potentially be lifted, other measures are less likely to go away that easily. As published by Tico Times, those monitoring the course of the pandemic in Costa Rica strongly favor lifting restrictions “gradually”, which means eliminating mandatory mask usage and scrapping social distancing might mean taking a step too far at present.
This means that, at least for now, American and Canadian tourists traveling to Costa Rica this winter must still observe the following requirements:
- Complete the digital Health Form within 72 hours of arrival, available here;
- Purchase travel insurance that covers Covid 19 infection and treatment if unvaccinated.
There are no tests, no quarantines, and no proof of vaccination required to enter Costa Rica.
Like in Belize, unvaccinated tourists are advised to select an insurance company listed by the government. The policy must be valid for the entire stay in Costa Rica and cover up to $50,000 of medical expenses (including Covid infection) and $2,000 for quarantine costs, should the traveler test positive. They must be able to present the insurance policy when crossing the border.
While vaccinated Americans are not required to present an insurance policy covering Covid at the border, we strongly recommend all our readers, irrespective of vaccination status, to take out insurance before traveling. Besides protecting against the financial burden that comes with canceled flights, Covid travel insurance also covers mandatory quarantine costs and hospital stays while abroad.
What about Costa Rica’s Vaccine Passport?
While proof of vaccination is not required to enter Costa Rica, a vaccine passport inside the country to access services MAY be in effect.
Starting late 2021, a vaccine passport came into effect within the nation to access many businesses, restaurants, hotels, etc. However, almost immediately after implementation the pass was met with much controversy and has an ongoing trial in 2022. As of January 2022, the vaccine passport is being ruled as OPTIONAL, with most businesses choosing to NOT implement it. In order for a business to opt-out of requiring a vaccine passport, they must keep capacity limits at 50%. To operate at 100% they must adapt the passport. These rules will be in place until at least March 7, 2022, until it will either be extended another month or discontinued.
CDC Advice for Costa Rica
When traveling internationally, especially during Covid, Americans are still advised to follow CDC guidance for specific countries and keep updated regarding travel rules, which may change at very short notice. Right now Costa Rica is listed as a “Level 4” destination by the CDC, and Americans must make sure they are vaccinated before traveling in order to avoid serious health risks.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com