Costa Rica placed on the Red List – What does this mean?

What does its inclusion on the Red list mean for travel to Costa Rica?

In a turbulent year for international travel, Costa Rica has been a beacon of hope for many intrepid travellers and travel providers alike. With a small population of 5 million people, Costa Rica’s “Pura Vida” lifestyle offers plenty of opportunity to get active in the great outdoors and avoid densely populated areas, enabling it to more easily contain outbreaks of covid.

In light of this, and also recognising their economy’s reliance on tourism, the Costa Rican government made the bold decision to relax entry requirements last November and actively encourage international tourists in without the need for quarantine or testing.

Why has Costa Rica been added to the Red list?

After the reopening of borders in late 2020, covid cases in Costa Rica began to increase. This happened slowly at first but by April 2021, cases began to soar with hospitals quickly beginning to buckle under the pressure. Despite a number of measures being introduced to control the spread, case numbers were not coming down quickly enough and Costa Rica was subsequently one of seven countries added to the UK travel Red List on 7th June 2021.

What does this mean for travel to Costa Rica right now?

Put simply, it means that travel to Costa Rica is off the cards in the short term for the majority of UK travellers with travel only permitted under exceptional circumstances. For UK residents returning to the UK from Costa Rica, it means a 10 day quarantine at a government approved hotel on arrival at a cost to the traveller of £1,750.

How long will Costa Rica remain on the Red list?

Hopefully Costa Rica’s stay on the red list will be short lived. The UK government has vowed to review their travel lists every 3 weeks so the earliest it could be removed is 28th June. However, although case numbers are coming down, they will remain high for a few weeks to come and the country is therefore unlikely to be removed from the red list too soon. Some within the industry feel that travel will resume in late summer but we at Gapforce have decided to wait until October before resuming our Costa Rica operations to allow both us and our customers more time to plan. This will naturally be subject to regular review over the weeks and months ahead.

Which factors will influence the decision to remove Costa Rica from the red list?

Number of active cases, death and hospitalisation rates, vaccination rates, and variants of concern are all factors the UK government looks at when reviewing the country lists. The good news is that the number of cases in Costa Rica are steadily decreasing, and their vaccination programme is gathering pace. With many seeing vaccinations are the best way to re-start international travel, Costa Rica is well placed to be removed from the Red List in the next few months given the progress of their vaccination programme and relatively small population. Assuming both of these metrics continue along their current path then there is optimism that travel will resume before the end of the year.

What about travellers from outside of the UK?

The Red list is part of the UK government’s travel traffic light system and does not apply to people residing outside of the UK. If you reside outside of the UK and are looking to travel to Costa Rica, we strongly recommend you seek advice from your home government. Although we welcome customers from outside the UK onto our programs, as a UK based company we follow the advice of the UK government and therefore whilst travel restrictions for Costa Rica remain in place we are unable to run programs there.

Whilst Costa Rica’s inclusion on the travel red list is disappointing, it did not come as a surprise given the escalating situation on the ground in recent weeks. We are however confident that as covid cases continue to decrease and vaccination rates in the country increase we will be welcoming customers back onto our Costa Rica programs soon.

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