Costa Rica Health authorities announced this Monday that the closure of the border to foreigners will continue until May 15.
The measure introduced mid-March was initially until April 12, then extended to Apr 30, and now for 15 more days.
Up to that date, only Costa Rican nationals and foreigners with permanent or temporary residency in the country are permitted entry, subject to a 14-day stay at home order.
All other foreigners will be denied entry.
The measure is applied at all borders, air, land, and sea.
Michael Soto, Minister of Security, announced earlier this month that exceptions for “humanitarian cases” may be made, but must be approved by the immigration service, the Health and Security ministries.
Costa Ricans and legal residents who violate the Health order after arriving in the country will be subject to fines ranging from ¢450,000 to ¢2.2 million colones and possible criminal charges.
Warning for residents
Foreigners who hold temporary or permanent residents who left Costa Rica before 11:59 pm on March 23 will be allowed entry; those who left the country after will be denied re-re-entry, and if caught re-entering illegally will have their residency status revoked.
The Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería (DGME) – immigration service – has announced that tourists and others who overstay their visas due to the coronavirus crisis will not be fined when they next try to exit Costa Rica.
Foreigners who entered Costa Rica on a tourist visa after December 17, 2019, can legally remain in Costa Rica until May 17, 2020, without lapsing into an irregular (illegal) immigration status.
For clarity, foreigners who entered Costa Rica prior to 11:59 pm on March 18 will be able to stay their full period based on their entry stamp. For example, a North American who entered on March 17, with a max 90 day, will be able to stay in the country until June 15.
On April 21, 2020, the DGME will begin to collect the fine from non-residents who overstay their period of authorized stay to be in the country. This fine has in the past been postponed.
The fine is (US $ 100), for each month (or part of) of irregular stay in the country or, failing that, they will be prohibited from entering for a term equivalent to three times the time of their irregular stay.
Exempt are minors, refugees, asylees, stateless persons, disabled adults and cross-border workers.
Non-residents are foreigners who, without intending to reside in the country, were granted authorization by the DGME for entry and extension for certain periods. This applies also to residents whose DIMEX, residency card, is expired.
Reaction on social networks was quick, within minutes of the announcement, many commented, saying the extension is certain to hurt an already hard-hit tourist industry by creating uncertainty.
“No one will think of committing to vacation plans”.
Others suggest the re-opening of borders be gradual, starting with the Liberia airport (LIR) in Guanacaste, a major tourist destination and a province with the second least (2%) of all confirmed cases.
The suggestion is that tourists arriving in Liberia would have limited travel within Costa Rica, to only areas outside the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM) – San Jose and Central Valley.
That would allow tourists to visit a major part of Costa Rica, beaches and national parks (currently closed) along the Pacific coast, and areas in Arenal and San Carlos, among others.
“Be smart and save the economy”
“How can they set a date when so many people are not abiding by the stay at home allowing the virus to stay alive.”
“Don’t open too soon. Planes aren’t flying anyway.”
“Few tourists are coming while people are still dying at such a high rate. this is a good move by CR.”