1. Vaccine: Mandated for public workers... said and done... don't like it, tough.
2. Tourists: They return, mostly from the US but Europe and Canada will follow soon
3. Vaccination Passports: Soon to be required to enter many buildings, and for international travel. This seems to replace the BS documentation I had to go through for Lita and I to travel... I expected that the world and CR would comply in uniting into a common approach... too bad I had to wast so much time an energy on the interim requirements.
1. Costa Rica vaccine mandate for public workers takes effect
Costa Rica’s public workers are required to get a Covid-19 vaccine starting Friday, October 15.
The mandate was enacted by Executive Decree No. 43249-S, signed by President Carlos Alvarado and the Minister of Health, Daniel Salas.
The decree applies to all public-sector officials as well as “employees of the private sector whose employers, within their internal labor provisions, choose to incorporate such vaccination as mandatory,” the Presidency said in a statement. The only named exception is for employees for whom the vaccine is medically contraindicated.
Repercussions for individuals who do not abide by the mandate are “the responsibility of the employer … in accordance to the country’s legislation and institutional regulations,” the decree reads.
The mandatory nature of the Covid-19 vaccine was first announced September 28 after it was approved by Costa Rica’s National Vaccination and Epidemiology Commission.
“The Commission made the decision based on epidemiological variables such as the number of Covid-19 cases, the mortality of the disease, the increased circulation of the Delta variant and the high hospital occupancy, which is impacted to a greater extent by patients who are not vaccinated,” the Health Ministry said at the time.
Costa Rica has already mandated the coronavirus vaccine for Health Ministry workers, Costa Rican Social Security Fund employees, the Red Cross and others who work in patient care. Costa Rica has about 325,000 public workers, per a 2019 report, though the pandemic has increased unemployment.
As of December 1, Costa Rica will also require vaccination among everyone ages 12 and older to enter many businesses and participate in large activities.
Repercussions for unvaccinated
According to Teletica: Public employees who refuse vaccination will be exposed to a fine of a base salary (?462,000) and will be reported to the Public Ministry. In addition, labor law specialist Marco Durante told Teletica, refusing the vaccine could lead to the worker’s dismissal without employer responsibility.
The Presidency has asked public institutions to inform on their employees’ vaccine progress by November 5.
Costa Rica’s vaccine laws
Costa Rica has long mandated vaccines, and such requirements are supported by the country’s laws.
Per Article 150 in the Ley General de Salud:
Vaccination and revaccination against communicable diseases determined by the Ministry is obligatory. Exceptional cases, for medical reasons, will be authorized only by the corresponding health authority.
Among the mandatory vaccines in Costa Rica are: measles, rubella and mumps (MMR); tuberculosis (BCG); Hepatitis B; influenza; tetanus and diphtheria (DTaP).
The Covid-19 vaccine is free and widely available to all Costa Rican citizens and residents ages 18 and up.
About 3.5 million people have received at least one dose; Costa Rica hopes to inoculate 4.27 million people, comprising all citizens and residents ages 12 and up.
2. Costa Rica nearly recovers pre-pandemic U.S. visitors in September
Costa Rica’s airports in September received 46,804 tourists from the United States, representing 93.3% of the amount registered for the same month in 2019, according to Tourism Board data.
In total, Costa Rica in September 2021 welcomed 77,599 visitors at its airports, representing a 30% drop compared to the last pre-pandemic September.
September’s numbers are also a decrease compared to August 2021 (114,227 air arrivals), which itself was 32,688 fewer people than in July 2021. These drops correspond to Costa Rica’s usual tourism low season, which spans from August through mid-November.
“The United States is the spearhead of our recovery and also Europe, whose recovery has been slower, shows a noticeable improvement with the total arrival of 14,748 people the previous month, representing almost 70% of the entry of tourists from the old continent of what was received prior to the pandemic,” said Gustavo Segura, Tourism Minister.
The Tourism Board (ICT) anticipates an increase in U.S. visitors over the final months of 2021 as a number of airlines increase or inaugurate routes during the high season. Some of the new flights:
- American Airlines from Chicago to the Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) and Guanacaste Airport (LIR).
- American Airlines from Austin, Texas, to Guanacaste Airport.
- Frontier Airlines from Orlando, Florida, to Guanacaste Airport.
Guanacaste Airport in September handled 17,162 visitors, 92% of pre-pandemic levels. SJO, meanwhile, handled 60,435 travelers, 65% compared to 2019.
Through September 2021, Costa Rica has received 878,574 tourists, of which 836,190 arrived by air.
Nine airlines offer direct connections between Costa Rica and the United States: Delta, United, Alaska, American, JetBlue, Spirit, Sun Country (seasonally), Frontier and Southwest. All U.S.-based carriers that served Costa Rica before the pandemic have resumed service.
In addition, Avianca announced new flights between Costa Rica and the United States and a route to Cancún that will begin later this year.
Tourism is one of Costa Rica’s principal economic drivers. Before the pandemic, it contributed to 8.2% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and created 9% of the nation’s jobs, according to the ICT.
Costa Rica has eliminated most Covid-19 entry requirements for vaccinated travelers. Click here to see Costa Rica’s entry requirements during the Covid-19 pandemic.
3. Costa Rica ties vaccine mandate to reopening
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
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
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.
- Fitness centers.
- Hotels, cabins or accommodation establishments.
- 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.