After a plea last night from the Unión Médica Nacional to install strict restrictions in Costa Rica, the government announced today what is was going to do.
From May 3-9, all nonessential businesses in the GAM (Gran Area Metropolitano) will close. This includes restaurants, bars, casinos, cinemas, gyms, and so on. These restrictions come as Covid cases are spiking in Costa Rica.
Businesses exempt from closure include the following: home services, clinics/hospitals, pharmacies, waste collection, supermarkets, caterers, grocery stores, mini-supers, bakeries, butchers, greengrocers, and farmer’s markets.
Hardware stores, construction material companies, locksmiths, glaziers, mechanics, gas stations, banks, hotels, and public parking lots can also remain open.
Businesses offering self or auto service – for example, drive-thru fast food places – can also stay open, as long as customers remain in their cars.
Please note these closures apply ONLY to cantons in and around the Central Valley, in the GAM area. The rest of Costa Rica is not affected at this time.
Further vehicular restrictions will also kick in, say government officials.
From May 3-31, the GAM will return to further restrictions based on the last number of vehicle license plates.
On Mondays, plates ending with 1 and 2 need to stay off the road, Tuesdays 3 and 4, Wednesdays 5/6, Thursdays 7/8, and Fridays 9/0.
Again, please note these restrictions only apply to the GAM area.
The existing weekend restrictions will remain in place, all over Costa Rica.
— La República (@La_Republica) April 29, 2021
Before today’s announcement, Health Minister Daniel Salas has already dismissed some of the Unión Médica Nacional requests.
Speaking earlier, he said Costa Rica would not be closing down schools, moving the driving restriction to 7:00 PM, or mandating Covid tests for people traveling to the country. These were some of the Unión Médica Nacional requests made last night.
Warning of the dangers of imposing measures without any scientific backup, Salas cited date that showed a 9:00 PM driving ban was more effective than a 7:00 PM one. He also spoke of the lack of evidence showing that opening schools spreads Covid and the ineffectiveness of requiring Covd tests for travelers.
Salas also ruled against decreasing the current 50% capacity in restaurants and bars.
The government was, however, in agreement with the Unión Médica Nacional requests regarding buses and cracking down on parties/gatherings.
Vice-Security Minister Eduardo Solano called on the public to watch out for ilicit parties and to report anything they see or hear. He also confirmed that transitos (traffic police) will be more viligant in ensuring vehicular restrictions are adhered to, and that buses don’t carry standing passengers.
James Dyde is the editor of centralamerica.com. He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.