Tuesday 21 September 2021

Business sector fears not being able to bear another ‘hammer’ blow

Business calls on the population to raise covid-19 care to try to avoid closures; assures they are complying with prevention measures and that it is through clandestine parties that most of the infections occur

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QCOSTARICA – Through campaigns on social networks and a call for the inspection of sanitary measures, the business sector closes ranks to ask the population to take care of covid-19, and at the same time, it tries to prevent the Government from increasing vehicle restrictions and closures.

The campaign is led by the Chamber of Commerce in alliance with Canatur, Apibaco, AmCham, Cacore and Fifco, among other organizations.

The slogan of the campaign released by the Costa Rican Chamber of Commerce is “Mala Idea” (Bad Idea).

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With a series of publications on social networks, the Chamber, together with its allies, tries to make users aware of compliance with preventive measures, the elimination of clandestine parties and the monitoring of protocols by its members.

The initiative is also signed by the National Chamber of Tourism (Canatur), the Association of Producers and Importers of Alcoholic Beverages of Costa Rica (Apibaco), the Costa Rican-North American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) and the Costa Rican Chamber of Restaurants (Cacore), among other organizations.

The objective is to make a call for attention to the general population, “but especially to young people” and those people who have relaxed their protocols and sanitary measures, and urge them to protect people’s health and work, says a statement from the Chamber of Commerce.

Julio Castilla president of the Chamber of Commerce emphasized that he does not consider it necessary to make closures or increase the vehicle restriction since he assures that it is not in retail stores and malls where infections are occurring but through parties and family gatherings.

In addition, he assured that the Chamber has been vigilant with its affiliates and at least 8,000 businesses are classified as safe businesses, but also highlights that 1% have opportunities for improvement in terms of compliance with regulations.

Jorge Sequeira, president of Cacore agrees with Castilla and assures that the country does not need more closures, but better and greater control of the current measures, in addition, he hopes that the municipalities can join the regulatory efforts since he recognizes that at this point everyone is exhausted but it is necessary to flatten the curve.

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“It is not worth that those who behave well have to pay for the broken dishes of those who are misbehaving, because I can assure you that those of us who are behaving well are investing money, that is something expensive with training, restaurant adaptations, among others,” highlighted Sequeira.

Additionally, the Association of Bars and Restaurants (Asobarest) indicated that it held a joint dialogue table with the public and private sectors in order to evaluate and propose different strategies and decisions to avoid closures.

Among the participants in this meeting were the Chamber of Industries, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of the Presidency and the Ministry of the Economy, along with chambers of restaurants, finance, and construction.

The position of all sectors is to try to avoid, as far as possible, closures and reductions in schedules and capacity, for which an awareness campaign is started among all participants.

Increase in cases

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Last Thursday, April 22, the country registered 1,776 cases of covid-19, the highest figure reported in a single day, since the start of the pandemic, in March 2020.

For Friday, April 23, the Ministry of Health reported 1,656 cases. the second-highest highest single day cases

These are 220  and 100 more infections than the previous record, registered on September 18, when 1,556 were confirmed, at a time when the country was facing the peak of the previous pandemic wave.

“There are new variants of the virus that are circulating among us, which make this virus transmit much more easily. We are seeing younger people who are occupying beds in intensive care units,” warned Daniel Salas, Minister of Health.

Hospital occupancy of use in intensive care for covid-19 patients at 83.49% according to the latest report from the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS).

The situation is more difficult in critical intensive care, where only nine beds were available as of Friday night.

Read also: Four hospitals in Costa Rica out of ICU beds to treat critical covid-19 patients

Business sector fears not being able to bear another ‘hammer’ blow. Photos: Jorge Navarro

Unemployment and suspension of contracts

Both Sequeira, from Cacore; Like Castilla, from Comercio, assure that a more intense vehicle restriction would increase unemployment that has been falling in previous months.

“As soon as the (weekend) restrictions began I had to reduce contracts that I had renewed, now if the measures are tightened it is likely that many of my workers will be left without work,” added Sequeira.

The unemployment rate for December 2020, January, and February 2021 was 18.5%, which means that 452,048 were without work in those months, down from 24% in the middle of last year, according to data from the Continuous Employment Survey.

Data from the Ministry of Labor web page show that, as of April 16, 74,042 people have their work suspended, of which 41,323 belong to the commerce sector, 24,185 to the services sector and 4,494 to transport.

As for the figures for the reduction of working hours, for the same date, at least 165,966 people are in that condition.

Current vehicle restrictions

Vehicle restrictions during weekdays are in place from 5:00 am to 11:00 pm in the central area of San Jose, based on the last digit of the license plate: Mondays 1 & 2, Tuesdays 3 & 4, Wednesdays 5 & 6, Thursdays 7 & 8, and Fridays 9 & 0.

On weekends, nationwide, on Saturdays, only vehicles with even ending numbered plates – 0, 2, 4, 6, 8 – can circulate, and on Sundays, only odd ending numbered plates – 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 – can circulate.

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"Rico" is the crazy mind behind the Q media websites, a series of online magazines where everything is Q! In these times of new normal, stay at home. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

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