QCOSTARICA – In his first decree as President, Rodrigo Chaves eliminated the mandatory use of the mask, as well as the obligation to be vaccinated against covid-19.
In addition, the refusal to be vaccinated will no longer be grounds for dismissal in the public sector.
The strict use of the mask and vaccination is only in force for workers on the front line of public health care. For other people, the use is voluntary.
“The rest of the people will be able to choose whether they want to protect themselves with vaccination or not,” stated the newly sworn-in president on Sunday.
“What the decree wants is to give Costa Ricans freedom and responsibility for their own health. The only ones who cannot be allowed to exercise the judgment of whether or not they want to wear a mask, because the decree does not prohibit the mask (…), the only ones who are obliged to wear a mask are the people who attend the health system, for example, someone who has a weakened immune system and for justice and fairness, we cannot expose someone who has the virus.
“To the rest of the people, I recommend that they put on the mask on the bus if they feel like it, especially those who have not been vaccinated three or four times. That is common sense,we Ticos (Costa Ricans men) are intelligent people and the Ticas (Costa Rican women) more so. I make a call that this is an opportunity, I respect the population, and if a wave of covid comes, we will reevaluate.”
During the act of transfer of powers, Chaves, the vice presidents, ministers and executive presidents attended the legislative plenary without a mask, although legislators and guests did wear them.
The mandatory use of the mask in closed places was in force since September 9, 2020.
Meanwhile, vaccination against covid-19 was mandatory from October 15, 2021, for public sector officials, as well as for those private-sector employees whose employers had so decided.
On November 5, the National Vaccination and Epidemiology Commission (CNVE) extended the mandatory nature of the vaccine for all minors.
Those decisions, promoted by today’s former president Carlos Alvarado and his then Minister of Health, Daniel Salas, were endorsed by the Constitutional Court.
President Chaves made the announcement on vaccines and masks during the first session of his cabinet.