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(CNN) — If you’re planning to travel to Costa Rica, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the global coronavirus pandemic.

The basics

Costa Rica opened back up for tourism in November. The country has eased restrictions in recent weeks and is looking into creating a digital nomad visa to drum up visitors who’ll make lasting contributions to the local economy.

However, a new wave of the virus is taking off, with hospitals now “dangerously full.”

What’s on offer

Costa Rica is known for its “pura vida” (pure life), and, pandemic aside, the vida is still pura here. This is a country for nature lovers, with both a Caribbean and Pacific coast, and jungle covering about a quarter of the country. Whether you’re here for the cloud forests, the volcanoes or the incredible nature and wildlife, your shoulders will definitely drop a few inches. Most visitors pass through capital San José as a mere routing point, but it’s a beautiful city, with stunning architecture, public art and museums.

Who can go

Everyone. Costa Rica opened back up — even for tourism — on November 1, 2020. However, there are of course restrictions. And standard visa regulations still apply.

What are the restrictions?

There’s no need for a negative Covid-19 PCR test result as there was initially. All passengers must fill out a Health Pass before travel. The website gives a QR code that you should show on arrival.

Tourists traveling to Costa Rica must have valid travel insurance, which covers potential quarantine accommodation up to $2,000 and medical expenses of at least $50,000 related to Covid-19. This must be accompanied by a certificate in English or Spanish, giving the policyholder’s name, the dates of coverage and guarantees as stipulated above.

If you can’t get a policy that includes quarantine insurance, there are suggestions of insurers on the Health Pass website.

Residents and Costa Rican nationals may be subject to self-isolation on arrival.

The land borders, which had been closed to nonresidents, reopened April 5 to visitors not needing a visa. The previous 14-day quarantine for those entering via land has also been abolished as of April 5.

America’s CDC classes the risk in Costa Rica as “very high” and says US citizens should “avoid all travel to Costa Rica.” Even fully vaccinated travelers are at risk of catching variants, it says.

What’s the Covid situation?

Costa Rica has seen over 288,000 cases and 3,625 deaths during the pandemic, as of May 18. Case numbers are rising fast in the second wave — they doubled in April.

According to the government, May has seen record infection rates, with nearly 17,000 new cases registered in the week until May 14. A record 195 deaths have been registered in the week up to May 18. On April 28, the authorities were warning that patients were having to wait for hospital beds; there are now 432 Covid patients in intensive care countrywide, well past the maximum optimal number of 359. It is the fullest the wards have been to date during the pandemic.
On May 5, PAHO — the Pan American Health Organization — warned that hospitals in the region are “dangerously full.”
Along with Mexico, it was one of the first countries in Latin America to receive vaccines in December. Nearly 1.1 million vaccination doses have been given so far, with a total of 8.65% of the population fully vaccinated. The government has asked Europe and the US to help, using the COVAX scheme.

What can visitors expect?

Things are getting back to a relative normal. National parks and beaches are open — the latter till 6 p.m.. Restaurants and bars have reopened, but clubs have not, and concerts and large groups are banned. Businesses must close at 11 p.m., however.

There is a nightly curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Driving restrictions, which had ended, have been brought back in an attempt to stabilize infection rates. This is done via license plates. On Mondays, cars with plates ending in 1 or 2 may not be used. On Tuesdays, cars with plates ending in 3 or 4 cannot circulate. The ban is extended to plates ending in 5 or 6 on Wednesdays, 7 or 8 on Thursdays, and 9 or 0 on Fridays.

Now, cars with license plates ending in odd numbers cannot be used on Saturdays, and those with even numbers (including 0) are banned on Sundays. That’s in addition to regulations in capital San José, where congestion-reducing restrictions are the norm anyway. There is an additional nightly driving curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Beaches are open from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. National parks are allowing 50% capacity. Concerts, nightclubs, fairs and other large gatherings are banned.

In an attempt at recovery, the country is planning a roll-out of year-long visas for digital nomads, with the possibility of renewal for one more year. Currently there’s a 90-day limit on tourist stays. Applicants would be able to take their family along with them, and will not be liable for income tax. Digital nomads have flocked to Costa Rica in recent months.
Authorities did not bring back further restrictions for Easter week, traditionally a peak travel period, but instead urged citizens to play it safe. Instead they suggested people travel to national parks, where they can be safer outdoors while helping to reboot the tourist sector.

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CNN’s Julia Buckley contributed to this report


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