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COVID-19 and Your Costa Rica Vacation

Mother and son using wash hand sanitizer gel in a Costa Rica cafeThere is no need to let the threat of COVID-19 ruin your Costa Rica vacation; with the right precautions, you can still travel and have a memorable time.

As of early March, Costa Rica had no cases of COVID-19, according to the country’s health minister. And the government is hoping to keep it that way. The health ministry is being proactive in its plans to mitigate the virus’ spread if it appears in Costa Rica.

The Costa Rica government has also announced protocols for businesses, airports, and government offices:

  • Signage describing correct ways to wash hands and to shield sneezes and coughs are mandatory for all businesses, schools, and churches.
  • Businesses are being asked to disinfect doorknobs, washbasin handles, toilets, telephones, keyboards, and computer devices at least twice a day.
  • Bus and train operators are disinfecting all surfaces touched by riders.
  • If you feel sick, self-isolate and stay away from large gatherings.
  • International airports and major ports have protocols for suspected cases of coronavirus.

How COVID-19 spreads

COVID-19 spreads like any cold or the flu: close contact with infected people and contaminated surfaces. The fall and winter are when the virus is at its most active, though it can appear any time under the right conditions.

Most people infected with COVID-19 have only minor symptoms, or they can be asymptomatic. Older people, young children, and people with chronic health conditions are at the highest risk for serious illness.

The World Health Organization says COVID-19 mostly spreads by saliva or mucous droplets as a result of  sneezing or coughing. There is some disagreement on the length of time the virus lives on surfaces, a window of 30 minutes or longer.

Protecting yourself and your family during your trip to Costa Rica

Your protection relies mostly on common sense, hygiene, and vigilance.

  • Stay away from sick people and large crowds
  • Avoid physical greetings: shaking hands, hugging, are air kisses on one cheek as are customary in the Costa Rican culture, even among relative strangers.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 30 seconds; trying singing the ABCs while you wash.
  • Use hand sanitizers (60 – 95% alcohol) generously, scrubbing a good 20 to 30 seconds
  • Keep your hands away from your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth

Cleanliness in flight, airports and other public places in Costa Rica

Fortunately, with your Costa Rica rental car, you’ll be able to avoid public transportation such as taxis or busses. You do probably, however, need to take a plane to get to this beautiful country.

Disinfectant wipes can clean commonly used surfaces. Their effectiveness varies, so be sure to read the label and go for a strong one.

An investment in disposable gloves can also help minimize your exposure.

Even with a rental car, there will be environments where your risk of exposure is a bit higher: hotel rooms, restaurants, stores, and gas stations. Here are some tips to guide you:

  • Look around for a first impression; does everything look clean?
  • Wipe down your car’s interior regularly to minimize unintended germ transfer.
  • Once in your hotel room, inspect for cleanliness; the state of the toilet is a big clue.
  • Increase your personal space—the farther away you are from others, the better off you are.
  • Choose off-peak hours at tourist attractions and grocery stores for smaller crowds.
  • Avoid big hotels, smaller boutique hotels tend to have higher standards and fewer people.

Common-sense precautions will help you reduce your exposure at home and in Costa Rica.

You’ll also have some peace of mind that you are doing everything possible to enjoy your vacation safely. Having a vacation rental car lets you be out and about, seeing the sights without the crowds.

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