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Letter from the Editor: Visiting Costa Rica during the coronavirus pandemic

March 13, 2020

We’ve received numerous questions over the past several days from readers asking if they should cancel upcoming trips to Costa Rica due to coronavirus.

Every situation is different, and you should make a decision that’s best for you and your family. That said, here are some things to consider before you travel:

  • First things first: If you are sick or have come in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, please stay home. If you’re an older adult or have pertinent chronic medical conditions, the CDC says you should reconsider nonessential travel.
  • The U.S. State Department recently issued a global travel advisory asking its citizens to reconsider all travel abroad. Similarly, the Costa Rican Health Ministry has advised citizens to avoid international travel if possible.
  • Costa Rica is not restricting international arrivals or departures. The U.S. is restricting entry for non-U.S. citizens from some countries, but Costa Rica is currently not on that list.
  • The Costa Rican economy relies heavily on the tourism sector. It will be impacted significantly by the coronavirus pandemic, and the small business owners who comprise the industry would certainly appreciate you coming.

If you decide to cancel or postpone your trip to Costa Rica: Most U.S. airlines are allowing for penalty-free flight changes or cancellations due to the coronavirus. (Contact your carrier for more information.) The Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) has asked private businesses to enact similar relaxed cancellation/rebooking policies.

If you decide to proceed with your trip to Costa Rica: Be a responsible traveler. Monitor your symptoms and contact health authorities if you present COVID-19 symptoms. Wash your hands frequently, and maintain 6 feet of separation from others in public. Follow official news sources, including the U.S. Embassy, to stay informed with the latest developments.

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About our coverage of coronavirus

We have been accused by some readers of inciting fear due to our reporting of the coronavirus pandemic. Our response:

The President of Costa Rica and heads of all the major government agencies have spent the last several days in an Emergency Operations Center due to COVID-19 and are announcing major guidelines that affect the majority of the Costa Rican people.

Our job is to report those facts. We are not fearmongering; we are reporting the reality of a rapidly evolving situation to an English-speaking audience who might not otherwise be able to stay properly informed in a Spanish-speaking country.

And, for goodness’ sake, the Costa Rican government (and The Tico Times, and the WHO, and the U.S. State Department, and the entire country of Italy, and all the major sports leagues worldwide) are not part of a left-wing conspiracy to hurt your president’s chances of re-election.

****

Just about everyone is being impacted — directly or otherwise — by the spread of coronavirus, and we wish you and your loved ones good health.

Here is a picture of my cat, who has decided to self-quarantine in her favorite box:

Cat self-quarantine

Thank you for reading The Tico Times. If you have suggestions on how our coronavirus coverage can better serve you, please let us know.

Best,

Alejandro Zúñiga
Managing Editor, The Tico Times

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