Costa Rica Will Return to Normal in April: No QR Code, No ‘Pase de Salud’, and No Restrictions
The Carlos Alvarado administration announced a de-escalation of the Covid-19 measures starting in March and April 2022
Costa Rica is on its way to ending most of its Covid-19 measures. Starting in March and continuing in April, the government will lift some of its most significant restrictions to date, including its QR code scheme. The country hopes to get back to normal after a vertiginous Omicron infection wave.
President Carlos Alvarado announced on Wednesday February 23, 2022, his government’s plan for a “responsible and gradual” re-opening of Costa Rica. This means that measures in response to the pandemic will not be lifted overnight.
However, the re-opening process will start soon. There will be no more driving sanitary restrictions after March 7th. That is, that cars will be able to circulate at anytime. Also because of this, businesses will also attend customers on their normal schedule.
During the days leading to March 7th, the vehicle restriction will stay as it is. No unjustified circulation will be allowed between midnight and 5:00 a.m. The driving restriction also means that no business can be open to the public during those hours.
This restriction has been in place in Costa Rica for almost the entirety of the Covid-19 pandemic so far, so leaving it is a huge step for the current administration. This is the reason they’re waiting until March 7th — to make sure that the pandemic is under control.
QR codes and ‘Pase de Salud’ will no longer be needed in Costa Rica
Currently, if you come to Costa Rica as a tourist or a non-resident you are not required to do a PCR test or to show vaccination proof against Covid-19. You have to fill in a health form (“Pase de Salud”), which let’s you get in the country whether you’re vaccinated or not.
If you are not vaccinated, you will need to show proof of travel insurance that covers Covid-19 related issues. If you have a complete vaccination scheme you have to show the documentation that supports it. With one or the other, you get a QR code.
Your QR code contains information about your vaccination status. As of now, Costa Rica only lets hotels, bars, restaurants and other similar businesses operate at full capacity if they ask for the QR code and only let in vaccinated customers.
This means that those businesses that don’t ask for vaccination proof can still open but only at 50% capacity. This will remain in place until April 1st. Then, no business will be required to ask for the QR code to operate at full capacity.
Likewise, starting on April 1st Costa Rica will not have the “Pase de Salud” as an entry requirement for non-resident foreigners. In other words, tourists and non-resident travelers will not need to have travel insurance or be vaccinated to get into the country.
Nationals and residents will not be required to fill in the “Pase the Salud” form after March 7th.
The announcement about the QR code not being needed after April 1st means that the government surrendered in its aims to make vaccination obligatory for most social activities. The decree was appealed several times and delayed by national courts.
Before this announcement, the Carlos Alvarado administration expressed its intentions that the QR code become mandatory after March 7th. In the meantime, businesses could voluntarily ask for it in order to operate at full capacity.
That voluntary QR code scheme will now stay in place until April 1st. After that, social activities will return to normal, according to the government’s plan. No obligatory QR code scheme will be imposed.
Masks and handwashing to be maintained
Some basic measures against Covid-19, such as obligatory masks in crowded and public spaces and handwashing, will be maintained, said Minister of Health Daniel Salas. Vaccination and remote work (when possible) should continue too, he added.
Salas, who has been the government’s spokesperson for the Covid-19 pandemic since its start in 2020, explained that they are not lifting the entry requirements for tourists and foreigners right now because they expect the current pandemic wave to end before April.
Salas assured the country that the Covid-19 cases are “going down” and that “the forecasts are positive”. The minister considers that the country is going through the transition from pandemic to endemic. In an endemic infection still happens but in a more sustained way. But a new variant could appear and change everything again.
After some rocky months on behalf of the Omicron variant, President Alvarado highlighted that cases and hospitalizations have slowed down. Nevertheless, he said it is important to keep using masks and following other sanitary and hygienic protocols.
Costa Rica has been on a national state of emergency since Covid-19 first appeared in March 2020. This hasn’t changed and it is not expected to change until the pandemic is totally under control. The state of emergency helps the government impose restrictions when it feels it is necessary.