Coronavirus Costa Rica, Travel Updates

This blog is up to date as of the 26th March 2020.

With the number of worldwide cases of COVID-19 rising exponentially every day, we have compiled the latest information and links for travelers that have reserved their vacations to Costa Rica in the coming weeks and months. Please contact us as soon as possible for cancellations, as last-minute refunds may not be possible.

MAJOR UPDATES:
From Tuesday the 24th of March, Foreign Residents and Refugees will lose their status in Costa Rica IF they leave the country. This measure is intended to discourage people from traveling due to health risks. The country is not intending to take you out of the residency process, it is only to keep you from spreading the virus. If you have residency or refugee status- stay in Costa Rica. There are visa and residency application extensions already in place.

Costa Rica has closed its borders to all foreigners and non-residents until at least April 12. For foreigners who entered the country on a tourist visa after Dec 17, all visas have been extended to May 17. Most flights to and from Costa Rica have been suspended, or will be suspended in the next couple of days. If you need to return to your home country, do so immediately. Check this list for airline specific information. Keep checking this blog for live updates.

Should We Cancel Our Trip?

The following information is designed to help you to make an informed decision about whether to cancel or postpone your trip to Costa Rica. Overall, Drake Bay remains a very safe location. This is due to the low density of population, relatively low levels of international tourism (less than 1% of the national total), and an abundance of clean water and food.

Having said that, current travel advice is to suspend ALL international travel that is not 100% essential. Special care should be taken if you are elderly or have a compromised immune system.

How Many Cases in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica has 231 confirmed cases, 6 of which are hospitalized. There are cases in all 7 provinces of Costa Rica. None have been confirmed in Drake Bay or the Osa at this point. 2 people have died.

Are There Travel Restrictions?

Costa Rica has closed its borders to all foreigners and non-residents. The closure is expected to last until at least April 12th.

From Tuesday the 24th of March, Foreign Residents and Refugees will lose their status in Costa Rica IF they leave the country. This measure is intended to keep people from traveling due to health risks. It is not intended as a punitive measure. If you have residency or refugee status- stay in Costa Rica. There are visa and residency application extensions already in place.

Starting on Monday the 23rd, all National Parks and protected areas will close for visitation. We are awaiting further information regarding refunds and postponements for pre-reserved tickets with the Ministry of Environment.

All bars and nightclubs have been ordered to close, but this does not affect restaurants. All schools and universities have been closed until at least April 4th. Large public events have been canceled. And all beaches are closed to the public.

Panama has closed its borders to all non-residents. If you are planning to transit through Panama, you may have to change or cancel your flights. Also, foreigners in Costa Rica who need to do “border runs” to renew visas should be aware that the General Directorate of Migration has automatically extended tourist visas to anyone who entered the country after December 17, 2019. You can legally remain in Costa Rica until May 17, 2020. Stay tuned for updates.

Citizens returning to Costa Rica from overseas will now face a 14-day mandatory self-isolation.

How to Stay Safe in Costa Rica

If you are traveling in Costa Rica, you should consider the following measures. Although Drake Bay is very isolated and currently has a very low risk of contact with the virus, these measures may make you feel more comfortable on your trip.

  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after handling money or cell phones.
  • Refrain from hugs and handshakes
  • Consider bringing your own snorkel mask and/or life jacket. If you do not have space in your luggage, bring a small container of bleach to wash the mouthpiece of rented gear. Make sure to rinse well.
  • Bring your own refillable water bottle or CamelBak (we always recommend this, regardless of the virus, as it cuts down on plastic waste)
  • Consider bringing your own cup and cutlery set for dining out.
  • Avoid San Jose (as much as possible) and heavily touristed areas in the North of the country
  • Book private tours, instead of large tour groups, wherever availability and budget allows.
  • Avoid travel through large US airports wherever possible.

What if I get Sick in Costa Rica?

The Public Health system in Costa Rica is both excellent and cheap. Those on a tourist visa to Costa Rica may visit a clinic or hospital free of charge in any emergency. Having said that, we encourage people not to panic at the slightest sneeze and overwhelm our wonderful system.

Those displaying Coronavirus Symptoms will be tested and treated free of charge. This includes uninsured people and foreign tourists.

In non-emergency situations, check with your travel insurance provider to see what is and isn’t covered. On the off chance that you have to pay out of pocket for medical expenses, you should expect 30-70% less than costs in the USA.

For non-emergency situations, an information hotline has been set up and can be reached by calling 1322. In an emergency, please call 911.

What About Cancelled Flights?

Most flights to and from Costa Rica have been suspended, or will be suspended in the next couple of days. If you need to return to your home country, do so immediately. Check this list for airline specific information.

Those planning to enter Costa Rica from Continental Europe, the United Kingdom, and Ireland cannot travel via the United States. Check with your airline for updates on flight cancellations.

Some domestic flights in the USA have been canceled. Check with your airline to see if you may need to change your itinerary.

Travelers from Australia and New Zealand should check with their airline, as several long haul flights to the USA, such as Sydney-Los Angeles, have been suspended or reduced.

Use an Online Flight Checker and or speak to your airline directly

What About Returning Home?

Some travelers may face additional screenings or even quarantines when returning to their home countries.

Canada has implemented 14-day quarantines/self-isolation for ALL returning travelers. These may be mandatory for government employees and health workers. Check with your local health authority. In addition, if you have returned via China, Iran or Italy, you must register with the public health authority less than 24 hours after your arrival in Canada. In a new update, the border between the USA and Canada has been closed to all non-essential travel. Stay tuned for more details.

US Citizens will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days ONLY if they have been to a high-risk area (Iran, China, South Korea, Malaysia, and Europe, including the UK and Ireland).

Returning Australian and New Zealand travelers will face additional screenings and 14-day self-isolation if returning via China, Korea, Iran or Italy.

Government Travel Advice Websites:

Australia
United States
Canada
United Kingdom

What Are the GringoCurt.com Cancellation Policies?

Starting on Monday the 23rd, all National Parks and protected areas will close for visitation. We are awaiting further information regarding refunds and postponements for pre-reserved tickets with the Ministry of Environment. Please sit tight, as it may take us some time to receive and process refunds.

You can find our full cancellation policy on our Questions and Answers Page. We will endeavor to stick to this policy as things progress, but if we have a high volume of cancellations, there may be a delay in receiving your refund. We would also like to extend an additional offer for those who are postponing their trips for future months. Wherever possible, we will carry over deposits for postponed itineraries.

Please contact us if you have any concerns or questions about your trip to Drake Bay, Costa Rica, due to the Coronavirus. We will endeavor to keep this page up to date daily. Also, check out the below video for general scientific information about the virus and what scientists are doing to develop solutions.