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Costa Rica lifting restrictions on travelers from 11 US states, DC

Costa Rica lifting restrictions on travelers from 11 US states, DC
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Costa Rica is opening its borders to U.S. travelers from select states who test negative for COVID-19, partially lifting a ban imposed since March.

The Central American country will open its borders Tuesday to travelers with valid IDs from Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, D.C. On Sept. 15, travel will be open to residents of Colorado, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The list is based on U.S. localities that have similar or lower contagion rates to Costa Rica.

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Travelers on private flights won't be subject to the residency restrictions, because "their size and nature means they present a much lower epidemiological risk," according to the country's tourism board.

All U.S. travelers hoping to enter Costa Rica will have to present a negative COVID-19 test taken in the previous 72 hours. They must also fill out an online health form and provide proof of medical insurance, according to the report.

Travelers on connecting flights will be allowed to enter the country as long as they fulfill all the other requirements and don't leave the connecting airport while in transit.

Costa Rica's economy is heavily dependent on tourism, particularly from the United States.

The country began opening its borders to Canadian and European Union visitors on Aug. 1. It announced plans to start opening its borders to American tourists in mid-August.  

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 42 percent of foreign tourists in Costa Rica in 2016 were from the United States. Europeans represented nearly 15 percent of the tourist population, while Canadians accounted for 6.4 percent.

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Nearly half of the country's service exports are tourism-related, according to the OECD.

The U.S. passport, once one of the most powerful travel documents, currently provides access to only a handful of countries worldwide, many with restrictions.

Costa Rica's plan to accept U.S. travelers depending on their state of residence appears to be unique. The country's tourism board said the list of authorized regions will be subject to periodic changes.