Dear Friends and Clients,
In these trying times, we’d like to forego our usual weekly article about real estate in Costa Rica and focus on the important issues at hand.
On behalf of our Osa Tropical Properties team, we would first like to extend a warm greeting to all of our readers and our sincere wishes for your good health and that of your loved ones. This is not an easy time in our collective lives but it is an opportune moment for a long reflection on what is most significant: our health.
Our Osa Tropical Properties office is closed and our team are working remotely to answer client queries and to update our database on real estate market developments in the Costa Ballena. We are not currently showing properties in person and we are urging clients already in Costa Rica to remain in a self-imposed quarantine where possible.
We are proud of the swift response that the Costa Rican government has taken in closing its borders to foreigners. International visitors make up our real estate office’s client base and we will struggle without you. But we recognize the importance in playing our part to mitigate the effects of this virus on our people in Costa Rica and the people of the world.
The goal of Costa Rica’s government is to keep the universal healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed by asking us to socially engineer our behavior so that we act like a social vaccine by not getting infected and not infecting others. Most people in our Costa Ballena region have adopted these measures, meaning that stores and restaurants are mostly empty. Yet we are grateful that there has not been any hoarding or depletion of general supplies.
We are also grateful to be living in Costa Rica, especially in our Costa Ballena region. We are, of course, not immune to viruses here. But in this hot climate, colds, flus, and viruses are not as persistent as in much of North America. This is largely due to our smaller population density, as well as having access to healthier foods, well-stocked pharmacies and universal healthcare, should we need it. The Costa Rican government’s response comes with no cost for treating any person affected — foreigner, resident, or citizen — regardless of financial status or insurance. Social assistance is also available to people and businesses in the face of this crisis. This might now be what most people would expect from a so-called “third world country.” Costa Rica’s response instead mirrors the best of what the first world countries have offered their people.
A Timeline of COVID-19 in Costa Rica
In preparation for coronavirus inevitably reaching Costa Rica, the government pre-ordered lab kits to test for COVID-19 that arrived on February 26, 2020. The real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test kit allows Costa Rica to confirm or rule out potential coronavirus cases without having to send samples outside the national territory.
On March 6, Costa Rica confirmed the first case in Central America, brought by a tourist from the United States. As the most popular tourism destination in the region, this was an expected outcome that the Costa Rican government prepared for and was ready to enact strong measures of response.
University classes were suspended in early March and other schools deemed to be at risk have been closed until at least April 14, 2020. These closures have affected all schools in our South Pacific region.
On March 15, the Costa Rican government ordered the closure of all bars and discos to combat the spread of coronavirus. This has involved the Ministry of Health sending representatives all over the country to ensure that any establishments left open are predominantly serving food and are respecting the 50% capacity limit.
Specific protocols suggested by the Costa Rican government include:
- All businesses, schools and religious centers must have signage indicating proper hand-washing, sneezing and coughing methods. Businesses should disinfect door knobs, washbasin handles, toilets, telephones, keyboards and computer devices at least twice daily.
- Similarly, bus and train operators must regularly disinfect surfaces touched by riders. Bus and train terminals should have signs advising travellers to avoid touching their faces if they have not washed their hands.
- Churches should deliver the Eucharist to the hands — rather than directly to the mouths — of churchgoers. Similarly, the congregation should avoid physical contact when sharing a greeting of peace.
- Anyone feeling ill is recommended to stay at home and avoid large-scale gatherings. Citizens are recommended to minimize physical contact when greeting others.
- Both of Costa Rica’s international airports and major ports have developed specific steps in the event of a possible coronavirus case.
Costa Rica closed its borders to foreigners on March 18 at 11:59pm and only Costa Rican citizens, residents, and foreign diplomats can continue to enter until April 12, when the country’s borders are expected to reopen. Foreigners in Costa Rica on a tourist visa who arrived after December 17th, 2019 have been granted an extension of their 90 day tourist visa until May 17, 2020. This means that tourists in Costa Rica can choose not to fly home in these most vital times for slowing the spread of COVID-19. Those returning from overseas legally obliged to enter into a mandatory 14-day isolation in their residence.
The first death due to COVID-19 was reported on March 18 of an 87-year-old man who had been hospitalized west of the capital, San Jose. Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado wrote in a post on Twitter. “We stand in solidarity with his family… Only together and with solidarity will we pass through this national emergency.”
As of Thursday, March 19, 2020, there are 87 documented cases of coronavirus in Costa Rica. The second coronavirus victim in Costa Rica died on Thursday.
Update: Friday, March 20, 2020, there are now 113 cases in Costa Rica with none still in the Osa region. However, beaches have been closed all over the Pacific Coast effective immediately and National Parks close on Monday.
We will continue to update our database with information about the progression of COVID-19 in Costa Rica, as well as any changes in border policy. It is our pleasure to serve you, even in difficult times, so please reach out to us with any questions or concerns that you may have: firstname.lastname@example.org