COVID-19 News


masked at the feria

We offer on this page information to help the greater Grecia area expat community adapt to the rapidly changing situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic in Costa Rica. If you have information you'd like to share that would be of value to the community, please send it to our Editor.


Updated April 4, 2021
COVID-19 Symptoms If you think you're sick
US Embassy Alert including Travel Restrictions
and Immigration Updates 31 March 2021
Social distancing and Precautions Shopping

Dealing with a pandemic

At a moment of great concern for all of us living in a foreign country faced with a global pandemic and placed in an age group classified as “most-at-risk,” Que Pasa Grecia is providing relevant information on corona virus as it affects us in Costa Rica.


Symptoms

These are not all of the symptoms experienced by individuals testing positive for COVID-19, but here are the symptoms most commonly reported:

Most-Common Symptoms
Fever
Dry cough
Tiredness
Difficulty breathing (most-severe cases)

Secondary Symptoms
Headache
Possible loss of senses of taste and/or smell


If you think you're sick with COVID-19

If you think you may have corona virus, DO NOT go to a hospital emergency room, clinic or doctor’s office—possibly exposing others to this very communicable disease. Instead, call the Costa Rica COVID-19 hotline number: 1322 immediately if you believe you are presenting symptoms of COVID-19 or were exposed to someone who may have COVID-19 anytime since mid-February 2020. If you qualify, someone will be sent to your home to administer a COVID-19 test.

U.S. Embassy Alert: San Jose, Costa Rica 
31 March 2021

Level 3 Reconsider Travel

Costa Rica Announces COVID-19 Security Measures for April and Date for Opening of Land Borders.  Entry and Exit Requirements for U.S. Citizens.  

Costa Rica has confirmed 216,764 cases of COVID-19 as of March 31, 2021.  333 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, 163 of them in intensive care.  Costa Rica has reported 2,957 COVID-19-related deaths since March 2, 2020. 

Costa Rica’s Ministry of Tourism has announced that Costa Rica’s land borders will open to incoming U.S. citizen tourists on Monday, April 5, 2021.  U.S. citizen tourists wishing to enter Costa Rica via a designated land border crossing are required to purchase a medical insurance policy to cover any COVID-19 related medical treatment or quarantine lodging in Costa Rica for the duration of their stay.  The policy must guarantee coverage for medical expenses in cases of COVID-19 related medical treatment in the amount of 50,000 USD and minimum coverage of 2,000 USD for extended lodging expenses due to COVID-19 related illness.  It is possible to purchase an international policy or purchase a Costa Rican insurance policy through the National Insurance Institute (INS) or Sagicor of Costa Rica.  Visit this link for an unofficial English language translation of this announcement. 

The Ministry of Tourism has also announced that as of April 5, U.S. citizens with temporary/permanent Costa Rican residency entering Costa Rica via a designated land border crossing will no longer be issued a 14 day sanitary order (see entry requirements below for more information).  Costa Rica’s Directorate for Migration has also announced that persons intending to cross from Costa Rica into Nicaragua via a designated land border crossing must present evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken with 72 hours of their intended border crossing.  For more information on this requirement visit this link.   
  
Tourist Visa Extension:  Costa Rica’s Directorate of Migration has announced that visas for tourists who entered Costa Rica between December 17, 2019 and November 30, 2020 have been extended until June 2, 2021.  Tourists seeking the extension are required to purchase a medical insurance policy to cover any COVID-19 related medical treatment or quarantine lodging in Costa Rica for the duration of their stay (or the visa extension expiration date of June 2).  The policy must guarantee coverage for medical expenses in cases of COVID-19 related medical treatment in the amount of 50,000 USD and minimum coverage of 2,000 USD for extended lodging expenses due to COVID-19 related illness.  It is possible to purchase an international policy or purchase a Costa Rican insurance policy through the National Insurance Institute (INS) or Sagicor of Costa Rica.  Tourists must also email seguros@ict.go.cr with confirmation of purchase of the insurance coverage in order to receive the visa extension. 

Tourists who remain in Costa Rica without purchasing the required insurance and submitting proof of purchase to seguros@ict.go.cr can be deported from Costa Rica and banned from reentry for up to five years.  According to the Directorate’s announcement, this will be the final extension of these tourist visas.  Visit this link for an unofficial English language translation of this announcement or call 1311 for more information.

This visa extension DOES NOT apply to tourists who entered Costa Rica as of or after December 1, 2020.  Tourists in this category seeking an extension must submit an application to https://servicios.migracion.go.cr/Citas/Account or call 1311 for more information and to set up an appointment to request an extension.  Visit this link for an unofficial translation of the requirements for these requirements.      

Nationwide Restrictions:

The National Emergency Commission has announced that the nationwide COVID-19 restrictions which began on March 1, 2021 will continue during the month of April.  For an unofficial English language translation of these restrictions, follow this link.

There is a daily nationwide nighttime vehicle restriction from 11:00pm until 5:00am (including Saturday and Sunday). 
Weekday anti-congestion vehicle restrictions in effect in downtown San Jose prior to Covid-19 have been reinstated.   
The majority of commercial businesses can remain open 7 days a week from 5:00am to 11:00pm.
National Parks may operate at 100% capacity
Bars and casinos can operate at 50% capacity
Beaches will be open from 5:00am to 6:00pm

Entry Requirements:

U.S. citizens from all 50 U.S. States and Washington, D.C. are allowed to enter Costa Rica via flights from the United States or other countries.  U.S. citizen visitors will be allowed to enter Costa Rica via designated land border crossing points as of April 5, 2021.  Visitors arriving to Costa Rica do not need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.  Visitors traveling to Costa Rica need to provide proof of a medical insurance policy to cover any COVID-19 related medical treatment or quarantine lodging while in Costa Rica.  In the case of international insurance, tourists must request from their insurer a certification issued in English or Spanish, noting: 1) the validity of the policy during the dates of visit to Costa Rica, 2) guarantee of coverage for medical expenses in cases of COVID-19 related medical treatment in the amount of 50,000 USD and, 3) minimum coverage of 2,000 USD for extended lodging expenses due to COVID-19 related illness.  It is also possible to purchase a Costa Rican medical insurance policy through the National Insurance Institute (INS) or Sagicor of Costa Rica, covering the duration of your stay in Costa Rica.  Please send an email to seguros@ict.go.cr for questions about insurance coverage or to verify your current insurance policy will be accepted in Costa Rica.  In addition to the coronavirus-related measures, U.S. tourists must also have a valid passport and proof of intent to exit Costa Rica within 90 days.  (To prove intent to exit, U.S. citizens must possess a return ticket or a ticket as proof of when they intend to exit the country, commonly referred to as an outbound exit or onward ticket).  Costa Rica immigration officials have sole authority to determine the duration of stay in Costa Rica.

The Costa Rica Directorate of Migration has announced that Permanent/Temporary Residents of Costa Rica may enter the country via air or land borders regardless of where they are coming from but must present the following documentation: 1) Passport, 2) Valid DIMEX, 3) evidence Caja payments are up to date for each person, and 4) a completed Health Pass (Pase de Salud).  Residency holders who are not up to date on Caja payments will still be allowed to enter Costa Rica but will be required to become current with their payments within 22 days.  Residency holders who are not up to date on Caja payments must also present proof of insurance to cover COVID-19 related hospital and lodging expenses for 22 days.  Permanent/Temporary residents can check the status of their Caja payments by following this link.  As of April 5,U.S. citizens with temporary or permanent residency who enter Costa Rica via a designated land border crossing will no longer be issued a sanitary order requiring a 14 day in home quarantine.  For a summary of entry requirements for permanent and temporary residents, please visit this link.

The Ministry of Health has announced that face coverings are mandatory in all indoor settings except when eating, while alone, or in a private home.  All commercial workers who interact with the public are required to wear face coverings as well.  Face shields can be worn, but only if a face covering is worn underneath.  Face coverings are also required at bus stops and aboard all forms of public transportation.  Face coverings can be either surgical or homemade, as long as they cover the nose and mouth.  The Ministry of Health has stated facial coverings should not include venting devices in order to provide maximum protection against COVID-19.

Exit Requirements: 

Effective January 26, all airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older must provide a negative ​COVID-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of flight departure from Costa Rica.  Alternatively, travelers to the U.S. may provide documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel.  Check the CDC website for additional information and Frequently Asked Questions.  For more information on these requirements and a list of ​COVID-19 testing locations in Costa Rica, please visit the U.S. Embassy San Jose COVID-19 information page at https://cr.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/

Costa Rica’s Directorate for Migration has also announced that persons intending to cross from Costa Rica into Nicaragua via a designated land border crossing must present evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken with 72 hours of their intended border crossing.  For more information on this requirement visit this link.  For more information on these requirements and a list of ​COVID-19 testing locations in Costa Rica, please visit the U.S. Embassy San Jose COVID-19 information page at  https://cr.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/

Airline Operations:

Multiple airlines are now offering regular commercials flights between multiple cities in the United States and both Juan Santamaria Airport in San Jose (SJO) and Daniel Oduber Quiros Airport in Liberia (LIR).  Please check with the individual airlines for scheduling and prices.  For a complete list of all airlines operating in Costa Rica, visit the airport websites at https://sjoairport.com/en/reporte-operaciones/ and https://www.liberiacrairport.com/airlineinformation-liberia-airport.

Passengers traveling with pets and Emotional Support or Service Animals will need to consult with the airline directly regarding additional fees and space availability.   Proper documentation and veterinary certificates will be required.  Please visit the airline websites for more information.  For more information on requirements for pets to enter the United States, please click on  this link. 

IMPORTANT HEALTH INFORMATION FOR PASSENGERS ON ALL OUTBOUND FLIGHTS: 

U.S. airlines currently require all passengers to wear face coverings during the check-in process and for the duration of the flight.  Health regulations for boarding the U.S bound flights will be managed according to Costa Rica Ministry of Health guidelines.  At this time that includes medical personnel monitoring passenger lines for people with COVID-19 symptoms and asking passengers with symptoms to self-identify.    Health regulations for arrival at U.S. airports are managed by the airport and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) under guidance from CDC and state health officials.  Check with the airport and CBP websites for updates.  https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/coronavirus.  

All passengers will be subject to Costa Rica immigration and customs laws and airline policies.  The U.S. Embassy is not able to intervene if people are stopped for violations or do not meet airline regulations.  U.S. Citizens must have valid passports to enter the United States.  If you do not have a valid U.S. passport, please email ACSsanjose@state.gov immediately to apply for an Emergency Passport.  Foreign national passengers must possess an official travel document from their country of nationality and permission to approach a United States port of entry such as a legal permanent resident card, U.S. visa, or Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) pre-approval.  For more information on U.S. entry follow this link:  https://www.cbp.gov/travel.  

For information on requesting an emergency visa application appointment call 4000-1976, or visit: www.ustraveldocs.com/cr/cr-niv-expeditedappointment.asp. Note that foreign nationals seeking visas must qualify for a nonimmigrant visa under applicable laws, and that per U.S. Presidential Proclamation, most foreign nationals who have been in areas of highest COVID-19 incidence within the past 14 days must be refused embarkation to the United States. See complete details at www.ustraveldocs.com/cr.  

The U.S. Embassy will continue to monitor traffic and travel restrictions associated with COVID-19 preventative measures.  Please be sure you are enrolled in the Safe Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel.html to receive the latest updates.  You can also find updated information on the U.S. Embassy website at https://cr.usembassy.gov/.      

You can email any additional questions you may have to ACSSANJOSE@state.gov. 


Social Distancing and Precautions

The most important action: wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds frequently at home (and away, if possible—if not, use your hand sanitizer). If you go out, in addition to social distancing, be sure to take all recommended precautions.

I’m one of those in the at-risk demographic. So when I now go out, I’m not proud or a fashionista. I wear gloves, a face mask and my extremities are completely covered (I also carry a re-sealable plastic bag with disinfectant wipes and I carry hand sanitizer). I also avoid touching any surfaces with my hands. And, I especially avoid touching my face (mouth, nose, and eyes).
When you come back home, be sure to follow cleaning protocols - clean your shoes, clothes, self. Be sure to clean anything you may have touched on the way in and out of your house. Every time you exit your car, don't forget to disinfect door handles, steering wheel, gear-shift knob and other surfaces you may have touched inside your car and then go inside, remove your gloves, and WASH YOUR HANDS!

Practice 2-meter social distancing when in public. DO NOT touch others (perhaps, elbow bumping is allowed). A good article from the Washington Post and why this is so important:

The Importance of Social Distancing


Shopping

We hope you have discovered that many local grocery businesses (and restaurants!) are offering home deliveries (aka 'Express' or 'a domicilio'):

La Gran Bodega, the produce-heavy market near the Grecia feria that is popular with the ex-pat community, makes home deliveries, as does Supermercado Rosvil.

Both businesses will deliver groceries to customers in the greater Grecia area for ȼ3000. Use Whatsapp to send a text message with your list and directions for delivery. You can then call or text afterwards to confirm.

Gran Bodega: The number is 8886-7278. Please have your order in by 10:00 a.m. Contact is Karla, she speaks both Spanish and English. Produce always excellent!

Rosvil: The Whatsapp number is 8654-5447. Spanish only! If you can make your list as detailed as possible they will bring exactly what you ask for. E.g., “leche, 1 galon, marca Dos Pinos”. Make a list, take a picture of it and send to the market. They will call you back to confirm – you can pay with cash or credit/debit card when they deliver. Order early in the day.

In Sarchi, a similar service is offered by Pedidos, 8301-4753, and Fulvio Verduleria, (express delivery on the weekends), 8407-2365. Call them for delivery details.

PriceSmart in Alajuela also has an online service - order your items via their website, pay and pick up your packed order the next day. Again, if you use the Chrome browser, you can translate the site to English.