I’ve lived in Costa Rica, primarily in the western San José metropolitan area, for over 21 years, practicing law for 17 of those years. I have written many articles for online news sites serving the country, which some Howler readers have likely seen and read. In many instances, the theme of my previous articles was to be critical of the Costa Rican government’s lack of proactivity in response to problem-solving, choosing almost always a reactive response instead. I have written and posted articles specifically on this topic, noting how much unnecessary suffering this kind of approach causes Costa Rican citizens.

Fast-forward to this year’s COVID-19 crisis, particularly the guidance provided by Costa Rica’s current Minister of Health, Dr. Daniel Salas. Under Dr. Salas’ leadership, the government adopted a very proactive and uncharacteristically authoritarian crisis management approach, almost from the onset. Identified COVID-19 cases were quarantined at an early date following the virus’ entry into Costa Rica. A mitigation program of social distancing measures and various vehicle movement restrictions was designed to limit opportunities for the virus to spread within communities through large group gatherings.

The Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS), commonly known as CAJA, also must be commended for the preparations it undertook to ensure medical requirements for handling COVID-19 cases would be met. That included the acquisition or manufacture of ventilators and acquisition of additional hospital beds (including the commissioning of a unique COVID 19 treatment facility). It also meant acquiring the necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for hospital workers such as gowns, face masks, and gloves. CAJA did an admirable job rising to the kind of challenge never before encountered in Costa Rica. 

Without a doubt, these timely and proactive actions by the Costa Rican government, and primarily at the behest of Dr. Salas, have worked exceptionally well in controlling the spread of the COVID-19 virus, particularly in areas outside the San José metropolitan area. Although socially disruptive to a painful extent, their effectiveness cannot be overstated. 

In my opinion, from a review of other countries and their handling of the COVID-19 crisis, I would rate Costa Rica, along with South Korea, as being in the top echelon in their manner of handling the virus pandemic. In all likelihood, this has created an earlier opportunity than would otherwise be possible to rebound economically from the crisis.

Rick Philps’ law practice in Costa Rica encompasses real estate and development, corporate, commercial, contract, escrow and banking, wills and estate planning and immigration. He also conducts legal due diligence seminars and consultations in the Gold Coast area for expats moving, or considering moving to Costa Rica. Email or visit

Encouraging Outlook

The Howler shares this author’s optimism about Costa Rica’s post-pandemic economy rebounding faster than will likely occur in countries where government protection measures were less timely and proactive. The degree of care and concern shown by the Costa Rican government for residents, as well as visitors, has been impressive and reassuring.