Welcome Back to Safe Travel in Costa Rica and Hacienda Guachipelin!
*UPDATED OCT. 23, 2020
We warmly welcome you back to safe travel in Costa Rica and Hacienda Guachipelin for end of 2020 and beyond!
Greetings from Hacienda Guachipelin! We are excited to welcome you back and to invite new visitors to our Clean and Safe Costa Rica establishment in 2020! With Costa Rica travel restrictions easing and borders reopening to tourism in August and even more so in November, visitors from around the world are being allowed to travel to Costa Rica. As of November 1st, travelers from any country will be allowed into Costa Rica. We would like to take this opportunity to clarify “safe travel” to our guests through our health and safety protocols throughout the country and at Hacienda Guachipelin in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.
WTTC Safe Travel’s Stamp in Costa Rica
The World Travel and Tourism Council’s Safe Travels Stamp describes the correct usage of global protocols implemented by the WTTC to achieve effective and safe recovery of the travel sector. The WTTC will be publishing protocols for eleven industries, including: hospitality, attractions, airports and other travel-related industries.
The globally-recognized Safe Travels Stamp signifies governments and companies around the world that have adopted the health and hygiene standards of the WTTC. Costa Rica became the recipient of this stamp in July, which allows the government to certify companies that comply with these international protocols. This is a guarantee to tourists that Costa Rica is committed to comply with sanitary measures in the fight against COVID-19 in Costa Rica. These protocols take into account current WHO and CDC guidelines and will be updated on a continual basis to maintain compliance.
Safety measures in place when you arrive at Hacienda Guachipelin
The Clean and Safe to Visit program was designed by DDD Strategy Solutions and approved by the Ministry of Tourism (ICT) and the Ministry of Health to protect the safety and hygiene of visitors and employees. A thorough set of protocols that must be implemented by a tourism establishment to receive the certification. Employees of a business can see via an app what steps must be implemented in their area and prove that they are following directives correctly with photos, videos, and work logs.
Hacienda Guachipelin is one of less than 20 businesses in Costa Rica to have received its Clean and Safe to Visit certification and we are committed to maintaining these standards of health and safety for all of our visitors in the future. This means that every part of our business — from the preparation of food to the proper disinfection of rooms and tour facilities — Hacienda Guachipelin can guarantee the highest safety standards are in place for the protection of our visitors and employees.
Our restaurant and adventure tours are all open and available to guests who follow the described safety measures. The restaurant and tours are all open air and low density making it easy to maintain social distancing protocols. There are no central A/C units on the premises and every guest room has an individual A/C.
Other certifications we proudly hold at Hacienda Guachipelin
In addition to the new health and safety measures we have embraced at Hacienda Guachipelin, our restaurant, and the tours and activities we offer, we have always strove hard to ensure that our premises are clean, green, and operate sustainably. Listed below are some of our highlight certifications that we have been proud to hold for a number of years.
Blue Flag Ecological Certification
The Blue Flag Ecological Program was created to promote public health and sustainable tourism in Costa Rica. Currently, the program has ten categories that are administered by various public sector institutions and private company organizations. Businesses and communities apply annually to be considered for a Blue Flag certification, which Hacienda Guachipelin is awarded every year for our hard work to promote sustainable tourism.
Sustainable Tourism Certification
Costa Rica’s Ministry of Tourism in conjunction with a group of tourism operators created this certification to comply with the internationally recognized Sustainable Development Goals. The purpose of this certification is to recognize operators who promote sustainable tourism in Costa Rica, protecting the tourist from companies that abuse the concepts of “eco,” “green,” and “sustainable.” The Certification for Sustainable Tourism, known as CST, has been recognized by the World Tourism Organization, as one of the programs that managed to modify the way of doing tourism
Entry requirements for international travelers to Costa Rica
As of Aug. 1, select international travelers were allowed to enter three of Costa Rica’s international airports: Juan Santamaría International Airport in the capital, San Jose, Daniel Oduber Quirós Airport in Liberia, and Tobías Bolaños Airport, also in San Jose. Since November 1st, travelers from all over the world are allowed to fly into any of Costa Rica’s three international airports.
To enter Costa Rica, travelers must complete each of the following requirements:
- Fill out an electronic health pass form (available here). This involves visiting the Costa Rica Ministry of Health’s website and inputting your individual information. Each passenger must answer this health pass individually for each entry into Costa Rica. If the passenger is a minor or a dependent person, the health pass survey must be completed by the legal guardian. This form can be filled out several times to enter relatives traveling with you. After completing the health pass questionnaire, travelers will receive a QR code and an alphanumeric code that they must carry on their mobile or printed on paper to go through customs.
- Travelers must purchase medical insurance that covers COVID-19 related illness for at least $50,000 USD with a minimum of $2,000 USD for extended lodging expenses due to the pandemic. This insurance plan can be from an international provider that covers Costa Rica’s specific entry requirements or through Costa Rica’s National Insurance Institute (INS) or Sagicor.
Testing Positive Or Displaying Symptoms of COVID-19 When Entering Costa Rica
Anyone arriving who displays COVID-19 related symptoms will be tested at the airport. If you are required to get tested for COVID-19 while in Costa Rica, tests are available in select hospitals in San José for a cost of about $100. Results should be available within 72 hours and anyone required to be tested must quarantine until a negative result is obtained. If the person being tested receives a positive result, they will be required to quarantine for 14 days. The Ministry of Health will be following up with all quarantining individuals.
***UPDATE: As of November 1st, 2020, tourists can enter Costa Rica from all over the world. No COVID-19 test is required for entry as of October 26, 2020.
Protocols to follow when entering Costa Rica and thereafter
Upon landing in Costa Rican territory, travelers must wear face protection and comply with the strict protocols of the air terminal with regard to physical distancing, disinfection of carpets, and taking temperature readings, and must follow any other sanitary instructions.
Once in Costa Rica, travelers must follow sanitary instructions labeled at each location. These will include things like wearing face protection, sanitizing hands, maintaining physical distance of 6 ft from others, and taking temperature readings. Each of these measures is essential to ensure safe travel in Costa Rica.
Wearing a Mask
The Government of Costa Rica has mandated the use of masks covering the nose and mouth while waiting at bus stops and on public transportation. Masks are also mandated in all public and private establishments, except within your own home or accommodations. Masks must be worn at grocery stores, all other stores and shops, banks, and in taxis. Some tours and attractions may require masks as well, so it’s always a good idea to carry one with you.
Masks are not required for customers at restaurants. However, the staff must wear them.
The government has stated that if you do not wear a mask, you may be denied entry into a business. Businesses can temporarily lose their operating permit if customers are found in violation and most establishments take the rule very seriously.
Staying in Your Social Bubble
People are encouraged to stay within their personal social bubble. Your social bubble is the people who you live with, most commonly, your family. For travelers, this includes the people you are traveling with.
Common areas will be partitioned off or marked for social bubbling. At a few of the more popular beaches, there are bamboo markers to space people 1.8 meters (6 feet) apart. At other public spaces, similar measures have been put in place, such as stickers on the floor.
Orange and Yellow Alert Areas
Areas under Orange Alert are restricted by the type of businesses that are allowed to operate, as well as their hours. There are tighter restrictions on vehicle operating days and hours. Most businesses were allowed to open even in orange alert zones. For tourists, this means that restaurants, bars, supermarkets, shops, etc. are open at 50% capacity.
Hotels can be open at full capacity in both orange and yellow alert zones. Common areas like pools and hotel restaurants must maintain 50% capacity.
In Yellow Alert locations, most businesses are allowed to continue operating, although with restricted hours. Visits to beaches and open-air tourism are allowed with restricted hours. All beaches open from 5 am to 10 pm Monday to Friday and 5 am to 9 pm on Saturday and Sunday regardless of location. National Parks continue to operate in Yellow and Orange areas throughout the month at 50% capacity, as well as thermal hot springs resorts, wildlife centers, and botanical gardens. All outside, open air activities are allowed.
There are no inter-city or inter-province travel restrictions and no curfew, only driving time and license plate restrictions. The current driving restrictions for Yellow and Orange Alert zones are:
- Driving is permitted 5 AM to 10 PM Monday through Friday (with the correct license plate).
- Driving is permitted 5 AM to 9 PM on Saturday and Sunday for all license plates.
- Monday – Vehicles with last license plate digit ending in 1 and 2 can’t drive.
- Tuesday: Vehicles with last license plate digit ending in 3 and 4 can’t drive.
- Wednesday: Vehicles with last license plate digit ending in 5 and 6 can’t drive.
- Thursday: Vehicles with last license plate digit ending in 7 and 8 can’t drive.
- Friday: Vehicles with last license plate digit ending in 9 and 0 can’t drive.
- Rental cars are exempt from driving restrictions, as are travelers with valid flight/hotel printouts (in Spanish) showing that they will be arriving after curfew.
Costa Rica’s National Emergency Commission makes frequent updates to their website on business and vehicle restrictions in the different colored zones.
Penalties for Violating Sanitary Orders
Any individuals who violate a mandated sanitary order or restriction will be subject to a fine between 450,200 to 2,300,000 colones depending on the violation.
We are open for safe tourism in Costa Rica
As a country, we have been working hard to reopen the economy for sustainable tourism in Costa Rica, which is one of the biggest employment sectors. In most places around the country and in Guanacaste, hotels and restaurants are open. Beaches are open for most of the day and tourism companies are beginning to reopen slowly. We hope that in the coming months, more hotels, restaurants, and tour operators will reopen as more visitors are allowed into the country.
Although we continue to see a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in Costa Rica, the government of Costa Rica has implemented a series of measures to curb the number of new infections. These restrictions vary in intensity depending on the designation of each geographic zone.
Since tourism is a huge part of the local economy in Costa Rica, the government is ready to welcome visitors once again. To do this safely, visitors must follow all sanitary requirements to slow the spread of COVID-19. Costa Rica has a socialized health care system and a limited number of hospital beds that are already at 70% capacity. Making sure that the hospitals are not overwhelmed is essential to further reopening tourism and keeping both visitors and Costa Ricans safe.
Hotels in Costa Rica have many measures in place, including the following.
- At check in, the receptionist should wear a mask and maintain social distance with fellow employees and guests. The reception area should be cleaned at least every 30 minutes.
- Marks should be put on the floor to ensure guests are at least 1.8 meters apart.
- Guests should hand wash and/or sanitize before check in.
- Phone numbers of hospitals and medical centers should be posted in the reception area.
- Pre-check-in should be used whenever possible to limit time at the reception desk.
- UV technology should be used to disinfect room keys.
- Bellhops should disinfect the guest’s luggage as well as the baggage cart afterwards.
- Cleaning staff needs to wear personal protective equipment (a uniform, mask, and gloves). They are to follow strict cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing procedures using approved chemicals. They should clean all bedding without shaking it and deep clean high-touch items like remote controls, doorknobs, light switches, lamps, coffee makers, etc. Cleaners must keep a record of what and when they cleaned.
- Guests should decide whether they want their room cleaned daily.
- Guests should be informed of the sanitary practices being carried out at the time a reservation is made and via the hotel website.
- Restaurant employees must wear a mask and follow handwashing and cough and sneeze protocols. The restaurant must maintain and refill soap and hand sanitizing stations (automatic if possible) at all times at the entrance and in the bathrooms. They must constantly clean and disinfect, keeping records of cleaning.
- Restaurants can open at 50% occupancy. Tables should be rearranged so that the backs of chairs are at least 1.8 meters (6 ft) apart.
- Digital menus should be used when possible.
- Markings should be added to the floor to maintain social distancing at waiting areas (bathrooms, cashier areas, etc.).
- Food at buffets and salad bars should be handled by workers only.
- Tours can operate at 50% capacity, with tour groups broken up into social bubbles.
- Tour guides must inform clients of the sanitary protocols and rules that they will be following during the activity.
- Tour guides must have personal protective equipment, including masks. They must maintain distance between themselves and clients and have hand sanitizer available. They need to regularly disinfect frequently touched items like binoculars, scopes, lifejackets, flashlights, etc.
- Social distancing between people of different social bubbles must be maintained. There should be at least 15 meters (50 feet) between different groups.
- For hiking activities, they will limit groups to no more than 6 people. Groups should be people from the same social bubble. Some tour operators are only offering private tours for this reason.
- Hand washing is required before entering a tourist site and when leaving.
- Electronic payment is encouraged.
- If a tour guide suspects a COVID-19 case, they will communicate this with the Ministry of Health using the official methods.
- Shuttle van companies need to clean and disinfect all vehicles before and after use. Special attention must be given to high-touch areas like handles, railings, seatbelts, seats, dashboards, and mirrors. They should keep daily cleaning records and wear personal protective equipment.
- Drivers and personnel should wear a mask or face shield. They need to ensure that passengers comply with the mask requirement and not allow anyone in the van who appears sick.
- They need to provide visitors with hand sanitizer before they enter the vehicle and disinfect their bags. Cleaning products and hand sanitizer should be available in the vehicle at all times.
- Companies must display the sanitary protocols of the Ministry of Health in vehicles. They must provide information to passengers about ways to minimize health risk.
- Rental car companies must clean and disinfect all vehicles before and after use. Special attention must be given to high-touch areas like handles, railings, seatbelts, seats, dashboards, and mirrors. They should keep daily cleaning records and wear personal protective equipment.
- They must clean their offices, focusing on surfaces where there is greater contact (handles, reception furniture, doorknobs, computers, railings).
- Masks and gloves must be provided to employees who work with customers directly.
- Hand sanitizer should be available to all customers.
- Companies should mark the floor to maintain social distance among customers who are waiting.
- The temperature of both customers and employees should be taken upon entering a rental car office.
- For car pickups and deliveries not at the company’s office (e.g., at hotels or vacation rentals), the employee must inform the customer in advance of the preventative and cleaning measures being taken. The employee will use preventative measures when interacting with the customer to maintain social distance. Examples include asking the customer to put the keys on the hood rather than exchanging them directly for returns and disinfecting high-touch areas like the steering wheel, gear lever, and door handle when dropping off a car for a customer.
- Companies should email vehicle inspection reports to customers.
- They should implement electronic payment methods or contactless credit/debit cards when possible.
We Welcome You To Visit Costa Rica
Costa Rica has many measures in place to keep travelers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The government has gone to great lengths to implement procedures for each sector of the economy so that tourism and other businesses can reopen and the economy can get started again. With these measures in place, we hope that Costa Rica tourism can safely and successfully reopen to the world. Our goal is to encourage visitors from more countries to enter safely and enjoy the many magical tours and activities that Costa Rica and Hacienda Guachipelin have to offer.
*All of this information is current as of December 1st, 2020 and will be updated regularly as restrictions change.