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Costa Rica responds to U.S. travel policy, hopes to increase private testing

January 12, 2021

Costa Rica hopes to increase private coronavirus testing options for visitors, the Tourism Board said Tuesday, after the United States announced it will require a negative result from all arriving air passengers.

The Tourism Board (ICT) has “established a working group” in response to the new policy, which will take effect starting January 26, 2021. Authorities are “coordinating coordinating with private laboratories” to improve testing locations, the ICT told The Tico Times.

“The plan is to have these tests available to US travelers, and tourists of other nationalities, throughout the country, for less than $100 each,” the ICT said.

Costa Rica relies heavily on U.S. tourism, and the North American country’s decisions to implement new testing requirements will likely have significant impacts on the sector.

Canada also requires returning travelers, including citizens, to test negative for the coronavirus.

“The world is experiencing a pandemic whose tonic is to take action and adjust to changes on the fly,” the ICT said.

“Costa Rica is a destination committed to complying with health protocols, and we thank travelers for their trust.”

New policy applies to all air travelers

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which announced the policy on Tuesday, said it applies to all air passengers — including U.S. citizens and residents — flying into the U.S. from abroad.

Passengers must show written documentation of a negative test result. Travelers who previously had Covid-19 and have recovered must show a letter from a doctor or health department indicating they have been cleared to travel.

“Testing does not eliminate all risk,” Robert Redfield, CDC director, said in a statement.

“But when combined with a period of staying at home and everyday precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, it can make travel safer, healthier, and more responsible by reducing spread on planes, in airports, and at destinations.”

Airlines must deny boarding to passengers who do not meet the requirements.

“Testing before and after travel is a critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of Covid-19,” the CDC said in its statement.

Where to get tested in Costa Rica

Many private labs and hospitals in Costa Rica offer on-demand PCR coronavirus testing for a fee. These include: Laboratorios Echandi, Hospital La Católica, Hospital Cima, Laboratorios LABIN, Hospital Clínica Bíblica, Laboratorio Páez, Laboratorios San José and Hospital Metropolitano.

The majority of private labs and hospitals can guarantee results within 72 hours. Contact them for more information.

Costa Rica citizens and residents can get tested for free through the Caja, though these resources are typically reserved for people who are symptomatic. Call the coronavirus hotline (dial 1322) for more information.

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