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Costa Rica ties vaccine mandate to reopening

Traffic checks during the COVID-19 pandemic
(Photo by Ezequiel BECERRA / AFP)

Costa Rica plans to ease coronavirus measures throughout the remainder of 2021 as the country begins to impose vaccine mandates.

On Friday, a decree mandating the vaccine among public workers takes effect. And as of December 1, proof of vaccination will be required to enter many businesses and participate in large activities throughout Costa Rica.

Meanwhile, the country will ease Covid-19 restrictions, the Presidency said Wednesday. Barring further changes — which would be provoked by a spike in coronavirus cases or hospitalizations — these are Costa Rica’s plans for what remains of 2021:

October 2021 measures

Vehicle restriction:
From Saturday 16 to October 31, the night restriction will be from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. throughout the country. The following plates may not circulate, other than the list of exceptions:

Commercial establishments may operate between 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., in accordance with the vehicle restriction.

November 2021 measures

Vehicle restriction:

The hours of daytime vehicular circulation will be extended until 11:00 p.m. and the national weekday restriction will be eliminated. (The congestion-related restrictions in the San José area would remain.) As of Monday, November 15, the vehicle restriction on weekends will be eliminated throughout the country.

Capacity allowances for public transport will also be extended.

Commercial establishments can operate until 11:00 p.m., according to the vehicle restriction hours. Capacity restrictions will increase as follows:

  • Social events: 100 people (unvaccinated) or 200 vaccinated people.
  • Academic, business and church events: 500 people.
  • Parque Viva pilot plan: 2,500 vaccinated people at a concert.
  • Bars, restaurants, casinos and shops: 50% capacity.
  • Hotels: 100% capacity. Common areas still at 50%.
  • Beaches: Hours extended from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.


Finally, as of November 15, sports and cultural activities can welcome up to 25% of the venue’s capacity (vaccinated guests only).

December 2021 measures

The hours of daytime vehicular circulation will remain until 11:00 p.m. with no national weekday or weekend restriction.

As of December 1, the vaccine mandate to enter many commercial establishments will be enforced. In addition:

  • Commercial establishments can remain open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Social events: 200 people with a complete vaccination scheme.
  • Sports, cultural, academic and worship activities: 30% of the total capacity or a maximum of 500 people with a complete vaccination scheme.
  • Other large events: In spaces that allow capacity control, maximum 25% of total capacity.
  • The Parque de Diversiones amusement park can open with a capacity of 50% (5,000 people).
  • Bars, restaurants, shops and casinos: 75% capacity.
  • Costa Rica will allow more public sporting events.

As a reminder, proof of Covid-19 vaccination will be required to enter:

  • Restaurants, sodas, cafeterias and food courts.
  • Bars and casinos.
  • Stores (in general), department stores and shopping centers.
  • Museums.
  • Fitness centers.
  • Hotels, cabins or accommodation establishments.
  • Spas.
  • Activities, organizations or congregations in places of worship.
  • Event rooms for business, academic or social activities.
  • Adventure tourism.
  • Theaters, cinemas, art and dance academies, and artistic activity establishments.
  • Sports venues.

Proof of vaccination will not be required to enter supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, and other similar essential services.

Ongoing Covid measures

Masks will continue to be required in all public indoor settings. You can be denied entry into an establishment if you are not wearing a mask. Many businesses require hand washing and/or have implemented temperature checks.

In general, individuals should continue to make reasonable efforts to maintain physical distancing of at least 2 meters from others when in public.

Tourists can enter Costa Rica without insurance if they are fully vaccinated. The Health Pass remains a requirement for entry for everyone.

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