We have entered into week four of self-isolation in Costa Rica and our third installation of the Osa Tropical Properties’ ‘Coronavirus Chronicles.’ What a time this is to be living in Costa Rica! From speaking with friends over the phone or with clients online, we have come to determine that pretty much all expats who are in Costa Rica right now appear to be grateful to have made the choice to stay. Although we are facing daily restrictions to our everyday lifestyles, we have seen these measures keep our coronavirus graph fairly flat — which is a much different direction than we’ve seen in other countries, including those we typically call home.
People believe that Costa Rica is safer than the US, Canada, or most of Europe right now. And although there are still a few flights available to travel out of Costa Rica, most expats are not sure if they’d want to go back to their home countries because of how quickly the numbers of those testing positive are growing.
Flattening The Curve in Costa Ballena
On the other hand, Costa Rica’s COVID-19 coronavirus cases are spreading significantly slower than in most other countries, with only 16 new cases in the last 24 hours. Since the start of the crisis, there has only been 1 diagnosed case in our Osa province and 3 cases in the nearest major city, San Isidro. Sadly, though, a 45-year-old man became the third person with COVID-19 to die in Costa Rica. He was hospitalized in intensive care for 10 days prior to his death, despite not having any pre-existing conditions The two other deaths were both 87-year-old Tico men.
Health experts around the world initially questioned whether the novel coronavirus would go away with warmer, more humid weather. But countries like Costa Rica have consistently warm and humid weather and we have seen that coronavirus still continues to spread, though there are only 539 registered cases as of April 9. What has helped us flatten the curve — and to mostly keep the virus out of Costa Ballena — have been the strict, self- and government-imposed measures of social distancing.
COVID-19 Closures in the Costa Ballena
Heading into the biggest holiday of the year, Semana Santa, Costa Rica’s Southern Zone and other beach regions are typically the busiest they are all year. This year, with coronavirus’s threat looming over the country and the globe, the Costa Ballena’s three main towns, Dominical, Uvita, and Ojochal, are all deserted. Beaches are closed, restaurants are open only for pick-up (if at all), and even churches have shut their doors for the highest feast day of their calendar. Everything apart from gas stations, supermarkets, and pharmacies are closed.
The government has also ordered all short-term accommodations to close for this holiday season. Neighbors are urging each other to not accept reservations for their rental homes (a grey area in the government closures). Many of the current cases of coronavirus in Costa Rica are located in the San Jose area, which is the most densely populated in the country. There are hundreds of rental properties in the Costa Ballena that are missing out on peak income from those who would normally travel to the coast from San Jose. Instead, we find ourselves fortunate that the virus has not really reached our area.
Other businesses that must close during this week’s holiday period include: theatres, restaurants, sodas, food courts, cafes, and malls. Police are stopping vehicles at the highway intersection in Dominical, asking drivers where they are going and checking that they are not traveling past the ‘75 km from home’ restriction. Beaches and National Parks will remain closed until at least May 1.
For a more personal insight into the current pandemic times in Costa Rica, read Osa Tropical Properties agent Rebecca Rowntree’s take on life during self-isolation.
And stay tuned for more to come from our Osa Tropical Properties Coronavirus Chronicles: realtor Marcia Oro is taking zumba class online and planning her next big real estate moves; broker Kevin Champagne is in quarantine with three women (one a baby!); and realtor Keith Richman is taking this forced down time to force himself to do all of those jobs around the house he’s been neglecting.