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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Costa Rica has relaxed restrictions starting today. Here’s what’s open

Happy August! Costa Rica is relaxing coronavirus restrictions starting Saturday, August 1.

The below measures apply from August 1 through Sunday, August 9. During these nine days, Costa Rica is in a “fase de apertura,” or Open Phase.

Most commercial businesses open nationwide

Regardless of whether they’re located in Orange or Yellow Alert cantons, most commercial businesses are allowed to open during this period.

This includes all the usual essentials: Supermarkets, restaurants, pharmacies, financial services, hardware stores and agriculture stores. (Supermarkets can sell all products, not just essential items.)

Home delivery, rental car companies, health services, public and municipal institutions, and any business that doesn’t attend directly to the public can operate without hour restrictions.

Gyms, hair/beauty salons, botanical gardens, and hot springs are also allowed.

National parks can open, as can hotels, outdoor tourism activities, and beaches (from 5-9:30 a.m. in Orange Alert cantons and 5 a.m.-2:30 p.m. in Yellow Alert cantons).

Religious gatherings of up to 75 people are permitted, as are event halls for activities of up to 30 people.

The list of allowed businesses is extensive. Essentially, if the business is not on the restricted list (see below), it can open. If you need the complete list, click here.

Establishments that are not permitted this month

The following activities are not permitted, nationwide, throughout August.

  • Concerts, public shows, fairgrounds, bullfighting activities, topes, sports events, community fairs, entertainment activities located in shopping centers, the International Film Festival, conventions and trade shows, the National Arts Festival.

In addition, the following establishments are not permitted, nationwide, throughout August:

  • Conference centers, Mélico Salazar Popular Theater, National Theater (except for virtual broadcasts and small guided tours), children’s games, skate parks, jumping parks, amusement parks, Parque Viva (except for car racing without spectators and drive-in cinema), bars, night clubs, large religious activities such as processions, gambling and betting activities (e.g. casinos and bingos).

Vehicular restrictions vary by area

Driving is allowed as follows:

  • Mondays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 1 and 2 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely.
  • Tuesdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 3 and 4 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely.
  • Wednesdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 5 and 6 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely.
  • Thursdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 7 and 8 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely.
  • Fridays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 9 and 0 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely.
  • Saturdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in even numbers cannot drive.
  • Sundays: Vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers cannot drive.

In Orange Alert cantons, driving is permitted from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. In Yellow Alert cantons, driving is permitted from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends.

Note that some areas near the northern border with Nicaragua also only allow driving from 5 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. These areas are:

  1. Cantons: La Cruz, Upala, Guatuso, Los Chiles, Corredores.
  2. Districts:
    1. San Carlos: Aguas Zarcas, Cutris, Pital, Pocosol, and Venecia.
    2. Sarapiquí: Llanuras del Gaspar and Curuña.
    3. Siquirres: Pacuarito and Reventazón.
    4. Pococí: La Rita, Roxana, Cariari, and Colorado.
    5. Guácimo: Duacarí.
    6. Coto Brus: Sabalito and Agua Buena

If you’re confused about when you can drive, we recommend inputting the last digit of your license plate on this website or on the official government site.

Buses, taxis and special transportation (e.g. for tourists) can function normally.

Exceptions to the vehicular restrictions include: Rental cars, people driving to/from the airport, people driving to/from a hotel. Other usual exceptions, such as driving to work or to a pharmacy/hospital, also apply. Proof is required in all instances.

Cantons in Orange Alert

The following cantons remain under an Orange Alert in August. All others are under a Yellow Alert:

  • San José: Alajuelita, Aserrí, Curridabat, Desamparados, Escazú, Goicoechea, Montes de Oca, Mora, Moravia, San José, Santa Ana, Tibás, Vázquez de Coronado.
  • Puntarenas: Corredores, Coto Brus (districts of Agua Buena and Sabalito), Golfito (district of Pavón), Puntarenas (districts of Barranca and Chacarita).
  • Heredia: Barva, Flores, Heredia, San Isidro, San Pablo, San Rafael, Santo Domingo.
  • Alajuela: Alajuela, Naranjo, Poás.
  • Cartago: La Unión.
  • Guanacaste: No cantons under Orange Alerts. 
  • Limón: No cantons under Orange Alerts. 

Click here for an interactive map of Orange/Yellow Alert cantons in Costa Rica.

Wearing a mask or face shield is required in virtually all commercial establishments throughout Costa Rica. You may be denied entry into a business if you do not have a mask. Click here for details.

International flights continue

Repatriation flights to/from the United States will continue throughout August.

Commercial flights are permitted in August from select countries. Tourists must purchase approved travel insurance and show proof of a negative coronavirus test from a sample taken within 48 hours of the flight. The latest details, which come from the Costa Rican Consulate, are elaborated here.

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