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Covid-19 News update for Canadians in Costa Rica

Costa Rica

The Canadian Embassy in Costa Rica has issued updates that are important for Canadian tourists and for legal residents of Costa Rica.


On March 16th, the Canadian Embassy in Costa Rica issued the following statement

In an attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), most governments have implemented special entry and exit restrictions for their territory. Before travelling, verify if the local authorities of both your current location and destinations have implemented any specific restrictions related to this situation. Consider even your transit points.

Restrictions imposed could include:

  • Entry bans, particularly for non-residents
  • Exit bans
  • Quarantines of 14 days or more upon arrival, regardless of where you are arriving from
  • Health screenings
  • Border closures
  • Airport closures
  • Flight suspensions to/from certain destinations, and in some cases, all destinations
  • Suspensions or reductions of other international transportation options

Additional restrictions can be imposed suddenly. Airlines can also suspend or reduce flights without notice. Your travel plans may be severely disrupted, making it difficult for you to return home.

You should not depend on the Government of Canada for assistance related to changes to your travel plans

  • Monitor the media for the latest information
  • Contact your airline or tour operator to determine if the situation will disrupt your travel plans
  • Contact the nearest foreign diplomatic office for information on destination-specific restrictions Foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada: https://www.international.gc.ca/protocol-protocole/reps.aspx?lang=eng

GLOBAL TRAVEL ADVISORY On March 13th, 2020, the Government of Canada has issued a Global Travel Advisory advising Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice.

If you are currently outside of Canada:

  • Find out what commercial options are still available to return to Canada.
  • Consider returning to Canada earlier than planned if these options are becoming more limited.
  • Ensure that you have sufficient finances and necessities, including medication, in case your travels are disrupted.

This advisory overrides all other risk levels, with the exception of areas for which we advise to avoid all travel (including regional advisories). The avoid all travel advisories remain valid.

On March 23rd they released the following request to contact the Embassy if you are remaining in Costa Rica.

Dear Canadian,

You are receiving this message as you have registered with the Embassy of Canada in Costa Rica.

Due to the Global Travel Advisory (www.travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories) and the closure of borders in Costa Rica, many of you have already returned to Canada. We would be grateful if you could reply to this message to confirm if you are in Costa Rica or have returned to Canada.

Please consult the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 dedicated website including the latest information on travel advice and information on prevention and risk. Please disregard if you have already provided this information to the Embassy.

One hour later, Canadians were issued the following notice.

On March 23, the Government of Costa Rica announced further measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as follow:

  • A complete closure of all of the country’s beaches;
  • A mandatory closure of all places of worship and religious services;
  • A vehicle restriction from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. (effective March 24th with exceptions to be published). Violators will receive a fine of 22,187 CRC (approx. $50 CAD);
  • Effective March 24th, all foreigners with legal residence status that leave the country will automatically lose their residence status.

It is important to note that these latest restrictions are issued by Costa Rican officials, not the Canadian Embassy.

While these newest restrictions will affect Canadians who may still be thinking of returning to Canada, it is important to note that there are no direct flights leaving after the 26th, and if flying through the US you could be banned from entering, due to their restrictions. The best option is to remain in place.

For those with Residency, either permanent or temporary, thinking of flying today, one should consider whether you are willing to risk that status and not return, or return and start the process over. Whether one agrees with the new policy is more or less irrelevant at this point.

Americans and other nationalities are also affected by these rules. For Nicaraguans with work visas or temporary status, the decision can be especially daunting.

While the desire for many to be with family during this crisis, it is important to consider that such a decision may increase the risk of exposure to loved ones. Travel through airports or ports of entry put people in direct contact with others who may have already been exposed. It also poses a risk for workers at the borders and for airport staff.

With Santa Semana coming up, children out of school, and the majority of the country off work, we should be grateful for these restrictions. There is no doubt the closure of the beaches and the ban on the sale of alcohol are a direct attempt to discourage people migrating to the beach for the holiday, as they normally would.

As of yesterday there are only 158 confirmed cases in the entire country. We are hopeful all these people recover and the new restrictions help keep the virus from spreading further. There have been two confirmed deaths, both of which were 87 years of age, according to the Tico Times. While many may not consider themselves to be at risk, we should all be mindful of others in the community who are at higher risk, due to age, immune deficiencies and other health related factors.

Once the restrictions are lifted, hopefully shortly after Easter, we can all debate whether or not the measures were overblown, or justified. With global travel restrictions already in place, the damage to the 2020 tourist season is already done. The sooner we rebound from this the better.

We will add to this article as new notifications are provided.