With 1,022 covid-19 confirmed cases as of this Friday, May 29, Costa Rica is preparing to enter a new phase of reopening activities starting Monday.
According to information from the Minister of Health, Daniel Salas, starting June 1 all hotels, cabinas, and accommodation establishments will be allowed to operate at 50% of their capacity, every day of the week.
Initially, in the first phase, only hotels with less than 20 rooms could do it.
Sodas, restaurants, food courts, gyms and swimming schools will also resume activities on Monday, at a capacity of 50%.
The event halls can function exclusively for activities with a maximum of 30 people, including organizers, guests and required personnel.
“The separation measures of 1.8 meters must be observed, respecting social bubbles and with lists of attendees with ID and contact number, subject to vehicle restrictions,” said the minister.
Museums and academies of arts without contact may also operate from 5 am at 10 pm with a capacity decreased to 50%, from Monday to Friday.
Salas also informed of the public sector is authorized the cumulative workday, that is, to work longer hours four days a week, to have a working day off. It would apply to the public sector.
“Public institutions will continue working with the basic operating plan. This is important because the implementation of the cumulative day is authorized. This means that you can work 10 hours a day four days a week, with the possibility of choosing Monday or Friday as an additional day off,” he reported.
Starting Monday, special tourism transport with restrictions and special measures established by the Public Transport Council (CTP) will be permitted until June 19, for a period of evaluation of the behavior of the covid-19 curve, but also of compliance with the measures by the users.
Greater openness starting June 20 could be permitted.
Casinos, bars and clubs will remain closed, in addition to the prohibition of activities of mass concentration such as public shows. The Teatro Salazar and the Melico Salazar will continue to be closed.
Community fairs are also not allowed. The Parque de Diverrsiones and other like activities will remain closed.
Border restrictions continue. The prohibition of the entry of foreigners (tourists) is extended to June 30. Only nationals or residents (who left the country before March 24) will be permitted entry, subject to a mandatory 14-day isolation order. See more here.
The vehicular restrictions will remain the same, from Monday to Friday, between 5:00 am and 10:00 pm, vehicles are restricted based on the last digit of the license plates; from 10:00 pm to 5:00 am, all vehicles are restricted unless they are in the exemption list.
On weekends, Saturdays and Sundays, the daytime vehicular restrictions are from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm (on Saturdays all even plates are restricted, on Sundays all odd plates); the nighttime restrictions is from 7:00 pm to 5:00 am.
“Although we know that we take care that society advances and economic activities are resumed, there is an imminent risk that there will be simultaneous cases and that we will lose the status of non-community transmission, so I ask the population to follow this discipline of complying with the golden rules: If someone is sick, they do not have to go anywhere.
“We have seen that many cases are still associated with transgressions of social bubbles, sharing with family members and that the respective measures were not kept. I know it is difficult, I know that many are wanting to hug loved ones, many people who want to have face-to-face contact with friends, but this is not a matter of mine, it is a matter that the virus and nature put in front of us,” said Salas, showing clear signs of fatigue while speaking.
This second phase of reopening, however, comes with a caveat.
“I want to emphasize that over the weekend and during the week we are going to increase the monitoring of the Fuerza Publica (police), Health, Ministry of Economy and corresponding rectors of each activity, that the measures are being complied with.”
“We are going to be visiting randomly. If a center does not comply, not only is the activity canceled, but their operating permit is suspended for a full month, because here we remember that we are allowing activities under the premise that we are living under a pandemic, that the rules have changed and that we cannot be careless with sanitary measures”, Salas said.
Increase in cases. The second phase of reopening is moving forward despite the significant increase in cases in recent days. This Friday there were 22; on Thursday 16 and on Wednesday 28.
The total number of confirmed cases, from the first on March 6, is now 1,022 of which 480 are women and 522 men. A total of 830 Costa Ricans and 192 foreigners have being infected with the covid-19.
To date, a total of 653 people have recovered. There are 13 people in hospital, of which 2 are in intensive care. The total number of deaths remains at 10.
“To continue with 10 cases or less per day in the rest of the pandemic it is very difficult to occur, but it is true that we are monitoring not only national behavior, but also cantonal and district behavior, in the sense that If we see any movement, something that gives us an indication that there is an expanded risk of establishing a greater transmission, we can apply a restriction specifically for that canton or district and we can announce that at any time, if that risk is verified,” added Minister Salas.
One of the major threats facing Costa Rica is the situation north of the border, Nicaragua, where community transmission is confirmed.
For this, starting today, Friday, in another attempt to prevent the spread in the country, the Public Transport Council (CTP) instructed bus companies and their drivers of cross-border service to request identification from their passengers to ensure that they are not irregular foreigners (illegals), who may represent the danger of spread.
Román Macaya, executive president of the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS), confirmed the temporary suspension of the use of hydroxychloroquine in Costa Rica.
The decision is made after reviewing recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) based on the study in the medical journal Lancet, which warn of possible side effects.
Macaya clarified that the context in which that drug is used in the country is very different from that of the 96,000 patients that were evaluated in the published study.