President Carlos Alvarado announced this Monday its plan for opening and gradually enabling activities for the next 80 days, consisting of a process in four phases, established for the gradual reopening of the national economy.
It consists of a process that will keep the population on trial in each phase, allowing the gradual reopening of shops, entertainment venues, sports facilities beaches and even the return to face-to-face classes for some grades.
Both President Alvarado and Health Minister Daniel Salas warned that if there are increases in the number of cases during a phase, a rollback in the process could be contemplated.
Throughout the eleven weeks social distancing and hygiene will be the focus, which are part of the so-called “golden rules” Minister Salas explained in detail.
The first phase will run from May 16 to 31, the second from June 1 to 20, the third from June 21 to July 11 and the fourth from July 12 to August 2.
“Costa Rica has made an effort to abide by the measures imposed by the Ministry of Health and the results achieved allow us to project some of the actions that we will be implementing in the following months,” explained President Alvarado, who recalled the importance of not letting our guard down and continue to follow hygiene and health protocols to avoid setback, that is an increase in the number of cases.
Minister Salas stressed, whether or not to advance to the next phase will be decided, finally, by the curve of infections of covid-19.
“If we do not do what we have indicated, not following the rules, this will mean a collapse and we would have to go backward and even reach a general quarantine,” the minister warned.
Though Minister Salas and President Alvarado were the key speakers at Monday’s press conference, for the first time in many weeks held live in person and with a limited press corps, joining the stage was the Minister of the Environment and Energy, Carlos Manuel Rodríguez; Minister of the Economy, Victoria Hernández; Minister of Culture and Youth, Sylvie Durán; Minister of Sports, Hernán Solano; and Minister of Tourism, María Amalia Revelo.
“We have to take this process with all seriousness because if with the advance of this opening we had an increase in the number of cases, and the curve goes up, we would be forced to go back,” confirmed the president.
The new reopening measures are announced at a time when the number of infections in the country reached 801 cases, since the first case in the country on March 6.
Costa Rica has been praised around the world for its excellent management of the pandemic, keeping the number of infections low, but more important the number of deaths, which as of Sunday stood at 7, following the death of an 80-year-old patient with underlying issues. There had not been a death in the country due to covid-19 since April 20.
The 4 phases that will be implemented from May 16 to August 2.
Both President Alvarado and Minister Salas were emphatic that the progression of the phases will depend on the attitude of the population, which so far has been excellent.
Phase I, from May 16 to 31
- The opening of some national parks with 50% of their capacity will be allowed.
- Beaches will be allowed open during the week from 5:00 am to 8:00 am.
- Recreational sports without direct physical contact, high-performance contact sports without spectators, is permitted.
- Monday to Friday vehicular restriction is from 5:00 am to 10 pm; on Saturdays and Sundays, from 5:00 am to 7:00 pm.
- Nighttime vehicular restrictions will continue from 10:00 pm to 5:00 am weekdays and 7:00 pm to 5:00 am weekends).
- Business with health permits will be allowed open; hotels with a maximum of 20 rooms with 50% of their capacity.
- Motels can be open for business.
Phase II, from June 1 to June 20
- The opening of more national parks continues with 50% of its capacity.
- Museums (with pre-purchase entry)with 50% of its capacity.
- Restaurants with 50% of its capacity can be open on weekends.
- Hotels with a greater number of rooms is enabled, but at 50% of their capacity.
- Public parks are enabled to 50%.
Phase III, from June 21 to July 11
- Opening of stores at 50% of their capacity on weekends.
- Places of worship can open applying a minimum distance of 1.8 meters between each person and with a maximum of 75 people.
- cinemas, theater and museums are maintained at 50% of their capacity with pre-purchased tickets and during weekends.
- The opening of bars at 50% during the week will be authorized.
- Sports centers at 50% (activities without physical contact)
Phase IV, from July 12 to August 2
- The capacity is expanded to 100 people in places of worship – always respecting the minimum distance of 1.8 meters between each person.
- The school year progressively according to the conditions of each school and education coexisting at a distance, when health conditions allow it
- The opening eaches during the week with extended hours.
What will NOT be allowed during each phase:
- Mass gatherings and public shows.
- Casinos and gambling activities
- Community fairs.
- Amusement parks.
- Discos and dance halls.
The ‘Golden Rules” for a successful re-opening
With an emphatic tone, the Minister of Health enunciated the “golden rules” that the population must apply so that the reopening measures can gradually advance. Important to note, the following are recommendations and not orders.
- No one with a cold or flu should leave their home. A person who already has symptoms is exposing all people who come across the virus, which could be covid-19. Managers and business owners should prevent people with symptoms from entering their facilities.
- People with risk factors should avoid going to public places. This applies, for example, to those with high blood pressure, diabetes, lung diseases, low immunity and seniors.
- mobilization to public places should be in “social bubbles”. The social bubble is the members who share in a close nucleus, such as a family who live together. “Groups of friends, family members who are not living together, and co-workers are not social bubbles. It is not about throwing parties with family or neighbors,” said the Minister.
- Never touch your face in public places if you have not washed your hands before. The virus enters through different points: the eyes, nose and mouth.
- Do not sing, shout, or speak loudly in closed public and meeting places. This can simulate a cough and increases the risk of transmission.
- We recommend the use of face masks in public places, especially in public transport, for people who are serving passengers and in meeting places where the exposure is greater than 15 minutes.
- It is recommended to take a temperature at the entrance of establishments where people gather.
“If we neglected and forget about the pandemic, if people start to think that it is over, we could reach 52,000 cases or more in less than two months, and we would also have a significant amount in the saturation of health services,” Minister Salas stressed.
Important note: The plan laid out by the government is in development, that is, over the coming days and weeks, there will be adjustments, shifts, changes, additions and retractions, dependent on the attitude and actions of the population.
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