Costa Rica Driving Restrictions

Costa Rica Driving Restrictions to Tighten Again from September 18

The Costa Rica driving restrictions during the pandemic will get tighter from September 18, with a return to the 9:00 PM limit and an end to free circulation at weekends, says the government.

From Saturday, September 18, Costa Rica will return to 9:00 PM-5:00 AM driving restrictions, cutting an hour off from the present 10:00 PM-5:00 AM situation in place since August 9.

At the same time, Costa Rica will also reinstate the weekend driving restrictions – where vehicles can circulate on Saturdays and Sundays depending on whether the last digit of their license plate is odd or even.

These new restrictions will stay in place until at least September 30.

Here’s the situation as it stands:

  • Permitted driving hours – 5:00 AM-10:00 PM until Sept 17 (5:00 AM-9:00 PM from Sept 18)
  • Hours you need to be off the road – 10:00 PM-5:00 AM until Sept 17 (9:00 PM-5:00 AM from Sept 18)

Weekday license plate restrictions:

  • Mondays – All except license plates ending in 1 and 2 (plates ending in 1 and 2 cannot be on the road)
  • Tuesdays – All except license plates ending in 3 and 4 (plates ending in 3 and 4 cannot be on the road)
  • Wednesdays – All except license plates ending in 5 and 6 (plates ending in 5 and 6 cannot be on the road)
  • Thursdays – All except license plates ending in 7 and 8 (plates ending in 7 and 8 cannot be on the road)
  • Fridays – All except license plates ending in 9 and 0 (plates ending in 9 and 0 cannot be on the road)

Weekend license plate restrictions:

  • Saturday September 18 – Plates ending in odd numbers cannot be on the road
  • Sunday September 19 – Plates ending in even numbers cannot be on the road
  • Saturday September 25 – Plates ending in odd numbers cannot be on the road
  • Sunday September 26 – Plates ending in even numbers cannot be on the road

Away from the road, all businesses must close by 10:00 PM (9:00 PM from September 18). The same rules apply regarding capacities and social distancing – restaurants at 50% capacity and bars at 25% capacity. Bars can convert themselves into restaurants, cafes, or sodas to allow themselves a 50% capacity.

Social events of up to 100 people can continue as long as a 1.8 meter social distancing rule is kept, and everyone wears masks. Beaches remain closed at night, from 8:00 PM to 5:00 AM.                       

The new restrictions come as Costa Rica records some of its highest case numbers since the start of the pandemic, and the health system claims that hospitals are again on the verge of saturation.

Costa Rica is confirming around 2,500 new cases per day at the moment, equal to the last serious spike in mid-May 2021.

According to the University of Costa Rica’s CCP (Central American Population Center), Costa Rica could hit the peak of this current wave next week. The overall Covid R-rate is showing a general, slight decline. However, CR Hoy reports that the CCP also has more pessimistic view of cases continuing to rise over the next three-to-five weeks, reaching as much as 3,200 daily cases per day.

As always, case-count on its own is quite meaningless. The fear in Costa Rica is running out of space to deal with the small percentage of cases that need hospital care.

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