With plenty of optimism, we are happy to report that continued vigilance is proving helpful in maintaining a steady decline in active cases of COVID-19 in Costa Rica. Costa Rica’s daily new case rate is hovering in the single digits, with 713 total known cases of COVID-19 since early March. The death toll has remained at 6 for the last ten days.

In the United States, the total number of coronavirus cases has already exceeded one million. And Central America as a whole has seen more than 8,300 infections and 260 deaths from COVID-19, most of which are in Panama, which has more than 6,000 cases alone. Honduras has experienced a particularly high fatality rate with more than 60 deaths in 700 known cases.

About half of Costa Rica’s known coronavirus cases are located in the province of San José, the country’s most populous. In the Southern Zone of Costa Rica, we have had 5 total reported cases and no hospitalizations or fatalities. 

Costa Rica has processed more than 13,000 diagnostic tests for COVID-19 and can conduct up to 2,500 tests each day. Over the past five days, Costa Rica has processed an average of 155 tests per day. Costa Rica tests everyone who qualifies as a suspected coronavirus case, according to Health Minister Daniel Salas.

Relaxing coronavirus restrictions

Thanks to this slow rise in cases, Costa Rica has begun lifting some of its coronavirus restrictions as of Friday, May 1st, which also happens to be Labor Day in Costa Rica. If the country continues avoiding a rapid rise in cases, it will further ease measures in mid-May. The Costa Rican government will increase or further roll back social distancing measures every 15 days after evaluating the spread of the coronavirus.

Theaters, gyms and athletic centers — which have been closed since March 18 — will be permitted to reopen during the week with special limitations. But some of the country’s most impactful restrictions, including a ban on arriving tourists, will continue until at least May 15th. Beaches and national parks remain closed and mass gatherings, including religious gatherings and in-person learning, remain suspended. 

“I think Costa Rica has the ability [to slow the coronavirus] and is demonstrating it,” Salas said. “This is not only due to the actions we’ve taken as a government but also from a population that understands that we’re not in an April, almost May, like any other year.” 

Protecting the economy

Although it is expected that tourism will rebound when pandemic prevention measures are relaxed and borders reopen, people are finding ways to help the ailing industries in Costa Rica through donations and volunteering. Many of the world’s biggest media outlets are encouraging people to think about Costa Rica, even during global pandemic lockdowns. And most tourism businesses in Costa Rica are encouraging those who missed out on their vacation to rebook rather than cancel their plans.

The Costa Rican government is also working to protect foreigners who chose to shelter within its borders. Valid tourist visas from after December 17, 2019 have all automatically been extended until July 17, 2020. And tourists with a valid foreign driver’s license can legally operate a vehicle in Costa Rica beyond the typical three-month limit, the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) has announced this week.

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