(iStock/Washington Post illustration)By Shannon McMahonSeptember 1
In March, Costa Rica imposed strict land and air border closures, effectively shutting U.S. travelers out of the small Central American nation. Beginning in waves this September, however, residents of 11 states and D.C. will be allowed to visit Costa Rica once again, with a negative coronavirus test result in hand.
Beginning Sept. 1, Americans with a valid state ID proving their residency in Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Virginia or D.C. can enter Costa Rica under the new terms.
Beginning Sept. 15, Americans with valid state IDs for Colorado, Massachusetts or Pennsylvania will also be permitted to enter under the new rules.
Costa Rica appears to be the first destination allowing Americans to visit based on their home state, and the tourism board says the list of authorized regions is being “revised periodically.”
All visitors, regardless of their home country or state, will be required to have a negative coronavirus test result acquired within 72 hours before their flight. Travelers will also need to have proof of medical insurance and fill out a health form online, according to a statement by the Costa Rica Tourism Board.
“The entry of travelers from these 12 states is allowed because they currently have an epidemiological condition similar or lower levels of contagion to those of Costa Rica,” Tourism Minister Gustavo J. Segura said in a news conference Thursday.
Visitors will be permitted to arrive through a connecting airport in another state as long as they do not leave the airport during their layover.
Costa Rica has not allowed U.S. travelers to enter since it imposed closures in March. On Aug. 1, the country began accepting some foreign nationals with a negative coronavirus test result, including Canadians and E.U. Schengen-zone residents. On Aug. 19, the government of Costa Rica announced it would begin to accept American visitors from six states as of Sept. 1, and last week it doubled the list to include six more places seeing lower rates of coronavirus infections.
The United States is approaching 6 million total coronavirus cases, with hot spots accounting for the highest reported cases per capita primarily concentrated in the Midwest and southern United States. Costa Rica’s tourism board noted that the restrictions don’t apply to private flights arriving from the United States, which will be permitted beginning Sept. 1 “given that their size and nature means they present a much lower epidemiological risk.”
Segura said the U.S. travel protocol could “protect people’s health, and at the same time, the jobs that we hope to recover.” The Costa Rican Tourism Institute said in a statement earlier this month that it anticipates major tourism losses for 2020 will account for half of the country’s income. Like Segura, the tourism institute stressed the importance of the entry requirements, like a negative coronavirus test, to reactivate the country’s tourism industry.
“If we all adhere to the protocols,” Segura said at Thursday’s appearance, “the measures will be sustainable over time.”