U.S. changing entry requirements: Impacts on Costa Rica

The U.S. will lift Covid travel bans but impose a new vaccine requirement.

The United States has revealed changes to its Covid-related entry requirements that will take effect in November.

Among the new policies announced by Jeffrey Zients, coronavirus response coordinator for President Joe Biden:

  • The U.S. will lift Covid travel bans on all air passengers but impose a new vaccine requirement.

  • In order to fly to the United States, travelers will have to be fully vaccinated and must have tested negative for Covid-19 with a sample taken within three days.

  • U.S. Americans who are not fully vaccinated will still be able to fly to the U.S., but only if they test negative within a day of travel.

The new approach will take effect in “early November,” Zients said, and has been applauded by European countries and airline groups that have endured lengthy bans on non-U.S. citizens.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he’s “delighted” by the news, explaining it’s “a fantastic boost for business and trade, and great that family and friends on both sides of the pond can be reunited.”

Impacts on Costa Rica

Because the United States never banned travelers from Costa Rica, the new policies shouldn’t have a drastic impact here.

  • For vaccinated U.S. citizens, this changes nothing: They can visit Costa Rica without a Covid test (and without insurance), but they’ll need a Covid-19 test within three days of flying back to the U.S.

  • For unvaccinated U.S. citizens, this changes little: They can enter Costa Rica without a Covid test (but must purchase travel health insurance). They’ll need a Covid-19 test within one day of flying back to the U.S., but rapid tests are readily available at both Costa Rica airports.

  • This may have a bigger impact on Costa Rican citizens and residents, since the Health Ministry has an inefficient process for providing documented proof of vaccination. It’s also unclear whether the U.S. will welcome foreigners who were vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is widely used in Costa Rica (and elsewhere) but hasn’t been authorized in the United States.

All U.S. airlines have resumed service to Costa Rica, and these policies won’t ruin the 2021-22 tourism high season. But any shakeups are worth keeping an eye on — especially since the United States is Costa Rica’s most important market for visitors.

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