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 16 July, 2021|
|COVID-19 Symptoms||If you think you're sick|
|US Embassy Alert including Travel Restrictions
and Immigration Update, July 12, 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.
These are not all of the symptoms experienced by individuals testing positive for COVID-19, but here are the symptoms most commonly reported:
Difficulty breathing (most-severe cases)
Possible loss of senses of taste and/or smell
If you think you're sick with COVID-19If 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
12 July 2021
Level 4 Do Not Travel
Costa Rica Announces Driving Restrictions to Begin on July 12. New Entry Health Insurance Requirements to Begin August 1
Costa Rica has a total of 378,938 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since March 2, 2020. 916 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 and 392 patients are in intensive care. 4,760 COVID-19 deaths have been recorded and 304,395 people have been cleared as recovered; however, this figure typically lags several weeks behind actual figures.
Costa Rica’s Office of the President has announced that new driving restrictions will begin on July 12, 2021. See below for a summary of current COVID-19 related restrictions. For an official Spanish language list of all new and existing sanitary measures, follow this link or visit presidencia.go.cr/alertas.
- At least through August 8, the vast majority of businesses can operate (with some capacity restrictions) from 5am until 9pm.
- National Parks may operate at 50% capacity
- Beaches will be open from 5:00am to 6:00pm
Until August 8, a daytime vehicle restriction based on license plate numbers will be enforced nationwide between the hours of 5:00am and 9:00pm. Taxis, tourists with proof of hotel and flight reservations, and emergency vehicles are still allowed to circulate at all times.
From July 12 – July 25, the daytime restrictions will be as follows:
- Mondays: Vehicles with plates ending in 1 and 2 cannot circulate.
- Tuesdays: Vehicles with plates ending in 3 and 4 cannot circulate.
- Wednesdays: Vehicles with plates ending in 5 and 6 cannot circulate.
- Thursdays: Vehicles with plates ending in 7 and 8 cannot circulate.
- Fridays: Vehicles with plates ending in 9 and 0 cannot circulate.
- Saturdays: Vehicles with plates ending in even numbers cannot circulate.
- Sundays: Vehicles with plates ending in odd numbers cannot circulate.
From July 26 – August 8, the daytime restrictions will be as follows:
- July 26: Only vehicles with license plates ending in even numbers can circulate
- July 27: Only vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers can circulate
- July 28: Only vehicles with license plates ending in even numbers can circulate
- July 29: Only vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers can circulate
- July 30: Only vehicles with license plates ending in even numbers can circulate
- July 31: Only vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers can circulate
- August 1: Only vehicles with license plates ending in even numbers can circulate
- August 2: Only vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers can circulate
- August 3: Only vehicles with license plates ending in even numbers can circulate
- August 4: Only vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers can circulate
- August 5: Only vehicles with license plates ending in even numbers can circulate
- August 6: Only vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers can circulate
- August 7: Only vehicles with license plates ending in even numbers can circulate
- August 8: Only vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers can circulate
Costa Rica’s National Emergency Commission (CNE) frequently announces updates regarding driving restrictions as well as the areas under Orange or Yellow Alert.
For the most up-to-date information, please review the U.S. Embassy’s Mascot Messages at this link.
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 and at designated land border crossing points. Until August 1, all visitors traveling to Costa Rica will 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 medicals 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 email@example.com for questions about insurance coverage or to verify your current insurance policy will be accepted in Costa Rica.
Starting August 1, Costa Rica will allow entry without travel insurance to minors under 18 years of age and tourists fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. In the case of visitors from the United States, the “COVID-19 vaccination record card” will be accepted. Foreigners will be able to enter the country if they carry a vaccination certificate or card that contains at least the following information:
- Name of the person who received the vaccine
- Date of each dose
- Pharmaceutical company
As of August 1, unvaccinated adult visitors traveling to Costa Rica will continue to need to provide proof of a medical insurance policy to cover any COVID-19 related medical treatment or quarantine lodging while 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. U.S. citizens with temporary or permanent residency who enter Costa Rica via a designated land border crossing are no longer 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.
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, regardless of vaccination status. 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/
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
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.