Friday 3 February 2023

Bill to allow outdoor commerce approved in second debate

Sidewalk cafés, among others, will soon be able to operate legally with the passing of the open-air commerce bill

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QCOSTARICA – Outdoor cafés, bars, restaurants and sodas, among others, will soon be a norm in many areas in Costa Rica with the approval this Monday, in second debate, of the “open-air commerce bill”.

Sidewalk cafés, among others, will soon be able to operate legally with the passing of the open-air commerce bill

The final vote had the unanimous support of the 41 legislators present in the plenary session of the Legislative Assembly. The bill now requires the signature of Carlos Alvarado and published in the official government newsletter, La Gaceta, to enter into force.

The plan will allow authorized businesses, that is businesses with an operating permit, to use sidewalks, streets and even parks and town squares to carry out their business activities, provided they have the proper municipal permit.

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The approved text, however, prohibits the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages in these public spaces.

The initiative authorizes these premises to place furniture necessary, such as tables and chairs, for their activity in public places, provided that it is not permanent, that is removed daily from those spaces.

Local governments will be obliged to issue the necessary regulations to regulate open-air commerce, especially regarding the acquisition of licenses. In this regulation, the municipalities must set the hours in which the furniture can be placed in a public space and the causes for revoking the permits.

In order to use public spaces, the owners must pay the fee set by the respective municipality, which will be calculated according to the space used.

Legislator Pablo Abarca, of the Partido Unidad Social Cristiana (PUSC), described the initiative as an opportunity for municipalities and merchants to expand commercial activities and take advantage of the weather and beauty to have well regulated open-air business.

Roberto Thompson, legislator of the Partido Liberacion Nacional (PLN), pointed out that the initiative seeks to contribute to the reactivation process in safe conditions and described it as an instrument to support the sectors affected by the covid-19 pandemic.

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The PLN harshly criticized the government of Carlos Alvarado (PAC) because, during the eight-month period of extraordinary sessions between December 2020 and July 2021, the plan was not of interest to the Executive, since it kept that bill off the parliamentary agenda.

The legislation obliges municipalities and businesses, within the framework of the initiative on open-air commerce, to ensure accessibility and free movement of people with disabilities.


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