Costa Rica to Enforce Weekend Driving Restrictions Again

In a last-minute turnaround, Costa Rica announces the implementation of driving restrictions effective this coming weekend, from April 17.

We’ve had a will-they-won’t-they thing going on all week in Costa Rica, with rumors swirling on social media about restrictions coming back into play. Yesterday the Casa Presidencial went on the record to deny such rumors, saying only that they would enforce current measures more stringently.

But today, in a backtrack, the weekend vehicle restrictions will come back into play after all, according to a last-minute government directive, issued this evening.

Starting this weekend, Costa Rica will return to the system where only cars with plates ending in an even number can circulate on Saturdays. Odd numbered plates can circulate on Sundays.

Costa Rica began relaxing its weekend driving restrictions in October, when the Saturday and Sunday “curfew” kicked in at 9:00 PM. 

It finally eliminated them in March, after eliminating weekday restrictions in February. 

This time around, the “curfew” (for want of a better word – it’s not really a curfew, it’s the time when cars aren’t allowed on the road) will kick in at 11:00 PM, as has been the norm since March.

So far, weekday restrictions remain off the table, with regular circulation allowed Monday-Friday, 5:00 AM to 11:00 PM as before. It’s worth noting here that the regular, pre-pandemic San Jose driving restrictions remain in place.

The restrictions come amid an increase in Covid infections in Costa Rica, and a renewed concern about placing strain on hospital capacity. 

The number of patients hospitalized with Covid has doubled in the past month, according to the government.

“This leads us to take immediate measures to restrict traffic on weekends by alternating plates,” said Health Minsiter Daniel Salas.

“This measure has statistically shown to work and have an important impact on mobilization and infections.”

James Dyde is the editor of centralamerica.com. He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.