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Costa Tightens Covid Restrictions

Costa Rica Tightens Covid Restrictions Up Again

Costa Rica rolls back the vehicular restrictions to 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM from January 11 and cancels cultural events and other activities in the face of the Omicron variant of Covid.

The Costa Rican government announced a return to tighter restrictions today in the face of rising Covid case numbers in the country.

The changes come primarily with vehicular restrictions, where, from Tuesday, January 11, Costa Rica will return to a 10:00 PM “curfew” (“curfew” meaning the time vehicles need to be off the road unless exempt). Traffic can resume at 5:00 AM.

This 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM driving restriction in Costa Rica was last in place in October, before changing to 11:00 PM in November, and midnight from December 20. It represents a massive step backwards for restaurants and bars in Costa Rica.

José Quesada, the president of Asobarest, the Association of Bars and Restaurants, called the measures extremely upsetting” and called the government out for its “arrogance” in not listening to the sector during the pandemic.

The measures will continue until January 23 at the earliest, and apply to the whole of Costa Rica.

Existing plate restrictions will apply within the San José circunvalación (ring road).

Cultural and sporting activities also affected

Other restrictions set to begin include a ban on musical/cultural activities (the ongoing Ocaso Underground Music Festival underway in Tamarindo, for example, has to cancel the rest of its schedule). Sporting events can get underway, but behind closed doors, with no spectators.

Cinemas, theaters, academic, and religious activities remain unaffected for the time being.

Elsewhere, buses need to reduce their passenger standing capacity to a maximum of 20 standing passengers, and working from home is encouraged again.

Since the Omicron variant of Covid was first identified in Costa Rica on December 19, case counts have exploded, with the government counting some 12,000 new cases in the first week of 2022.

Due to the much milder nature of this variant, though, Covid hospitalization and death rates remain low. Costa Rica still retains the highest rate of vaccination in Central America. As it stands, some 69 percent of the population are fully-vaccinated and almost eight percent partially-vaccinated.