Another weekend in Costa Rica, and another set of restrictions.
Just a couple weeks ago the government agreed that they would make future announcements on changes to restrictions on Thursday afternoons, instead of Friday when both business and the public have made plans for immediate weekend. Instead, the recent increase in postive covid cases required last minute policy changes.
On Friday afternoon, the announcement was made at a press conference by the President of the Republic, Carlos Alvarado; the Minister of Health, Daniel Salas; the Minister of National Planning and coordinator of the economic team, Pilar Garrido; and the president of the National Emergency Commission (CNE), Alexander Solís.
The new restricitions are for areas under the Orange Alert which are applicable to specific cantons in all provinces of Costa Rica, not just San Jose.
Luckily for us in the Canton of Santa Cruz, we remain under a Yellow Advisory, while San Jose and neighboring cantons to the north, are under a more restricted Orange Alert.
In Guanacaste the Orange alert applies to the cantons of Carillo, Liberia, Bagaces and Canas.
What does this mean for us?
Essentially those of us living in the Canton of Santa Cruz, retain the same level of restrictions that were already in place. Restricted driving one day per week based on licence number, and driving only on Saturday with a licence plate ending in an odd number and ending with even numbers on Sunday. No driving after 7pm until 5am. Restaurants are open until 7pm for dining services with restrictions on their capacity. Beaches are open 5am-9:30 am daily
For our neighbors in Playa Coco and Liberia to the north things are much different. Driving during the week is restricted to 5am-5pm one day per week based on the last licence number.
If you live in Potrero-Flamingo area and have a plate number ending in 3, you cannot drive on Tuesday or Sunday. Now if you drive over the Monkey Trail into Carillo, where they are under the Orange Restrictions, you are only able to drive on Tuesday, hence you are subject to fines and having your plates siezed by the Traficos.
The result of this change isolates us from much of Costa Rica including from driving to Playa del Coco or Liberia and for their residents from coming to our area.
That means no driving to Walmart or Pricesmart or the Do-it Center, despite those stores being open to the public. How the police can enforce these new restrictions remains to be seen, but one can expect their will be an increase in random traffic stops and inspections.
These new restrictions will remain in place until at least July 19th, and unless the Sars Covid-2 virus respects canton boundaries, we should expect that we may soon be under similar restrictions to those under the orange alert. While it remains to be seen whether the recent increase in people who test positive for the covid virus will result in more hospitalizations or fatalities, it is clear that the government response to any increase in cases is more restrictions. Plan accordingly and hope we see more people recovering over the next two weekends.
According to the Ministry of Salud here are the new rules.
Complete list of cantons and districts on orange alert:
· GAM: San José, Escazú, Desamparados, Aserrí, Mora, Goicoechea, Santa Ana, Alajuelita, Vásquez de Coronado, Tibás, Moravia, Montes de Oca and Curridabat.
· Outside GAM: Puriscal
· GAM: Alajuela, Poás, Atenas, Grecia, Sarchí, Palmares, Naranjo, San Ramón and Zarcero.
· Outside GAM: Upala, Guatuso, Los Chiles, Southeast Sector of the Fortuna District of San Carlos (Tres Esquinas, Los Ángeles, Sonafluca, La Perla, San Isidro, El Tanque, San Jorge, Santa Cecilia); and La Vega and Bonanza in the Florence district of the San Carlos Canton.
· GAM: Cartago, Paraíso, La Unión, Alvarado, Oreamuno and El Guarco.
· GAM: Heredia, Barva, Santo Domingo, Santa Bárbara, San Rafael, San Isidro, Belén, Flores and San Pablo.
· Bagaces, Liberia, Carrillo and Cañas.
· Pococí, Talamanca and Guácimo .
· Golfito, Garabito, Puntarenas (except the districts of Cobano, Lepanto, Monteverde, Isla Chira, Isla Caballo, Isla San Lucas, Isla del Coco and Isla Venado) and Corredores.
Weekend restrictions : (Saturday 11, Sunday 12, Saturday 18 and Sunday July 19)
From 5:00 am to 5:00 pm for authorized establishments. Except for the list of exceptions, they do not circulate:
Saturdays: 0, 2, 4, 6 and 8
Sunday: 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9
Establishments enabled on weekends:
- Cantons on orange alert: Supermarkets, pharmacies, medical centers, grocery stores, suppliers, bakeries, butchers, greengrocers, home service, home food service, agricultural, veterinary and hygiene supplies, banks, funeral homes, farmer's fairs with differentiated fringe for older adults from 5:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.
- Cantons on yellow alert: Beauty salons, places of worship, beaches from 5:00 am to 9:30 am, hotels, restaurants, shops, museums, cinemas and theaters at 50% capacity, farmer fairs with a differentiated strip for adults older than 5:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., among others.
Weekday restrictions : (Monday July 13 to Friday July 17)
In the orange alert cantons:
- Total vehicle restriction of 24 hours, for access to supermarkets, pharmacies and health centers. Only the following plates may circulate:
Monday: 1 and 2
Tuesday: 3 and 4
Wednesday: 5 and 6
Thursday: 7 and 8
Friday: 9 and 0
- Public transport may operate up to 20%. Taxi service and special service for workers are enabled.
- The only establishments enabled to operate:
- Essential productive activities (Agriculture, fisheries and food industry, medical devices and their parts, production of chemical substances and pharmaceuticals, information and communication technology services and contact center operations that support essential activities within and outside the country). The foregoing includes the supply chains of materials, services, products and equipment essential for such activities.
- Supermarkets, suppliers, grocery stores and mini-supermarkets, only those corresponding to the section for the sale of food, beverages, groceries, cleaning and hygiene supplies, and basic needs.
- Bakeries, butchers and greengrocers.
- Pharmacies and medical centers.
- Home service (exclusive for food, pharmacy, veterinary, hardware and locksmith).
- Agricultural, veterinary and hygiene supplies.
- Funeral homes.
- Centers of the child care and development network and Centers of care for people in vulnerable conditions.
- Hotels that provide accommodation services to Public Administration officials or public service providers (banking, transportation of values, communications, electricity) or are people who are working in the distribution service of merchandise or food items and basic necessities , medicines, agricultural or veterinary supplies.
- Farmer's fairs, with a differentiated strip for older adults from 5:00 am to 8:30 am.
- The list of exceptions to the vehicle restriction is reduced to essential productive activities, establishments authorized by the Ministry of Health and basic services. Complete list is attached.
- Public institutions must maximize telework and maintain in person exclusively those essential operational services, as well as those required for emergency care. The rest of public servants should apply accumulated vacations or advance of vacations.
"The objective of the closure measures is to recover the traces of the infections, that is not going to be achieved immediately, but what we are looking for is to have that vital tracking for health management again. In this objective, we all have a mission: preventive measures and avoid mobilization, ”said Daniel Salas, Minister of Health.
Mr. Alexander Solís Delgado, president of the CNE, indicated in a press conference that "for the success of these measures, it is necessary to unite efforts, so that, as a whole, the community, local governments, private companies and institutions reinforce the plans to reduce risk and compliance with measures. ”
For her part, Minister Pilar Garrido Gonzalo stressed that "epidemiological indicators show that we must carry out a forceful closure measure to protect life, health and the productive fabric. We will apply the hammer now, to mitigate the net economic impact of the pandemic".
In the rest of the country (cantons on yellow alert):
- Vehicular circulation will be from 5:00 am to 7:00 pm, with ordinary license plate distribution and a complete list of exceptions (all productive activities and work centers).
- Establishments with sanitary operating permits may open regularly from 5:00 am to 7:00 pm, depending on the current reopening phases. The operation of places of worship of a maximum of 75 people, beaches from 5:00 am to 9:30 am, hotels, restaurants, shops, museums, cinemas and theaters are maintained at 50%, farmer fairs with a differentiated strip for older adults from 5:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., among others.
- Public transport is maintained on a regular basis, taxis and special transport for workers and tourism.
Vehicle restriction differentiated border areas
- The differentiated vehicle restriction is maintained, due to the border area, from Monday to Sunday from 5:00 pm to 5:00 am at:
- Canton of La Cruz
- Canton of Upala
- Guatuso Canton
- Canton of Los Chiles
- Canton of San Carlos: Aguas Zarcas, Cutris, Pital, Pocosol and Venice. In addition, the Southeast Sector of the Fortuna District of San Carlos (Tres Esquinas, Los Ángeles, Sonafluca, La Perla, San Isidro, El Tanque, San Jorge, Santa Cecilia); and La Vega and Bonanza in the Florence district.
- Districts of Plains of Gaspar and Curuña of the canton of Sarapiquí
- Pacuarito and Reventazón districts of the canton of Siquirres
- The districts of La Rita, Roxana, Cariari and Colorado of the Canton of Pococí.
- Duacarí district of Guácimo canton
- Canton of Runners
- Sabalito and Agua Buena districts of the Coto Brus Canton.
- The Río Cuarto canton will no longer be subject to the differentiated vehicle restriction.