Do you need to wear a mask in Costa Rica?

As the Coronavirus pandemic moves and changes everywhere, some countries are not affected while others are ravaged by it. We all felt the repercussions of the seismic event that coincided with 2020. Travel is slowly getting back to normal thanks to the vaccination programs underway in many countries.  Before stepping out for your travel escapades, it is important to know the covid stats of a country you are planning to visit. Here are some of the details about whether you need to wear a mask in Costa Rica. 

Costa Rica has had much lower tourist numbers since it reopened its borders in August last year. Arrivals from abroad have been declining by 80% since the pandemic. Travel to Costa Rica has increased, particularly in March and April of 2021, as vaccination campaigns advance in countries such as the United States. As a result, many travelers are now staying in Costa Rica for longer periods while they work or study.

An ongoing fight

Currently, Costa Rica is facing a second wave of active cases (which began in mid-April). Likewise, the healthcare system is also facing a crisis due to higher hospitalization rates. Moreover, the government is attempting to restrict the implementation of any new regulations on the tourism sector since the virus appears to spread mainly through residents, particularly in urban areas.   

As part of its efforts to slow the spread of the Coronavirus, Costa Rica will enforce wearing face masks or shields.

There are flights and boats that bring tourists to Costa Rica. Since September last year, cruise ships carrying vaccinated passengers and crew can dock in Costa Rica. Also, there are no land border restrictions for tourists, citizens, or residents.

Costa Rica does not require you to pass a Coronavirus test in order to enter the country. Costa Rica does not require insurance for minors and vaccinated tourists. Unvaccinated adults or partially vaccinated are required to purchase health insurance while living abroad. 

Do you need to wear a mask in Costa Rica?

In many parts of the world, mask use is controversial. Nevertheless, do you need to wear a mask in Costa Rica? Costa Rican law requires that you wear one when you enter any indoor area, including public transportation (such as the shuttle and bus).

A bar or restaurant is the only exception. Unless they are part of the staff, then they have to wear one. It is fortunate that many restaurants in Costa Rica have a lot of natural airflows.

It’s unnecessary to wear a mask in the open air or on the streets unless you’re at bus stops or public gatherings, like farmer’s markets or festivals.  

When traveling nationwide as well as in our own town, masks are sometimes used incorrectly or not at all. Although most people follow the rules and are respectful, there are a few instances when they don’t. Many companies will enforce the use of masks since non-compliance can lead to fines and closures. 

People in areas with a high number of outbreaks, such as San Jose, usually wear masks. People have just grown accustomed to it. Generally, people who live in remote areas where the virus has not spread as much do not like wearing masks.

Surgical or homemade masks are acceptable if they cover the nose and mouth. N95 masks and other respirators are accepted as well.

Bins covered with lids should be used to discard disposable masks. Before putting on and after removing a mask, users are advised to wash their hands.

The following sections will give you a detailed look at what to expect in Costa Rica and how different establishments are handling things.

Mask in hotels

When you arrive at your hotel, you’ll have to wear a mask, clean your hands, and most likely, take your temperature. When you check in, you should receive information about other safety protocols.

The hotel industry is one of the few businesses that are permitted to operate at full capacity.  In other words, all rooms are available for booking. There is a limit of 50% capacity in common areas like restaurants, pools, and gyms.

If you enter a restaurant wearing a mask, you can remove it once you are seated at your table. Normally, customers can take their masks off after ordering and receiving their drinks. There are some restaurants that are pretty lax with the rules; they allow people to enter without masks and only require them to wash their hands.

Waiters and other staff are supposed to wear a mask at all times. A lot of restaurants have chalkboards or QR codes for their menus, so you don’t have to touch things. Several restaurants have even closed down their inside areas and only offer outdoor seating.

Observance of local regulations by tourists and other visitors

In general, Costa Ricans are taking the pandemic seriously. Every employee at supermarkets, banks, and other indoor businesses wears a mask and sanitizes their hands daily.

There is a noticeable shift in many locals, especially in areas such as San Jose that have higher cases of covid, to be very careful about protocols. However, in specific rural communities on the central Pacific coast and some other rural areas, most people don’t wear masks and mix together easily. Expatriates living here also seem hesitant to wear masks when they get together. There are differences in every region and with people.

It’s all for good

Following several months of businesses closing, Costa Ricans want to return to some sense of normalcy. In addition to giving them hope for the future, international tourists are excited to return. This post may help you determine whether to plan your visit or not if you are thinking about it.

To slow the spread of Coronavirus, masks need to be part of a comprehensive strategy, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Masks that are not medically related have little evidence for their effectiveness.

A tentative rescheduling has been made for “Phase 3” of Costa Rica’s reopening, which includes longer hours for the beach and stores. Please check the official Costa Rica travel guide for more information