Tuesday 3 August 2021

Garabito backtracks with extended hours on beaches

Mayor made the decision after dialogue with Government; measure will be maintained at least until Tuesday when they will talk again

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QCOSTARICA – The Municipality of Garabito reversed Friday afternoon in its intention to extend until 6 pm the opening hours of the canton’s beaches such as Playa Jacó, Hermosa and Herradura, among others.

Municipalities say tourism in their areas is being hard hit by the 2:30 pm closing of the beaches this month

Patricio Morera Víquez, executive president of the Instituto de Fomento y Asesoría Municipal (IFAM), confirmed that he himself called the mayor of Garabito, Tobías Murillo, after the mayor had made it public his intention to defy the government’s measures to closing beaches at 2:30 pm until January 17.

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“I called him to talk a little more, even after our virtual meeting yesterday (Thursday). He was the one who kindly accepted that he was going to meet the schedules until Tuesday (January 12) when we will have a specific meeting on this issue,” Morera said.

The decision was also ratified by Johan Ramírez, Garabito municipal official, in a video published by the institution in which they indicate that they will abide by the official closing time and the 25% capacity on the beaches.

In this way, it nullifies the Council’s agreement taken on Thursday, which deviated from the provisions of the Ministry of Health and the National Emergency Commission (CNE).

On Friday, coastal municipalities such as Garabito and Quepos said they would respect the restrictions on the use of the beaches to avoid contagion of covid-19, due to the crowds. Those limits will be maintained at least until January 17, as confirmed by Pedro González Morera, actin minister Minister of Health.

Failing, González warned, they could be exposed to sanctions for disobedience to authority.

The minister insisted that the idea is to dialogue but, if non-compliance persists, a specific health order could be issued for cantons that disregard the directive and, if it continues, actions could even be directed before the Public Ministry.

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PLaya Jaco

The rebellion

Mayor Murillo had justified the decision of the Council of Garabito citing the “lack of technical rigor” when setting the schedule for the closure of beaches, which has a negative effect on tourism, commerce and the economy of these areas.

“We were the first when this emergency started to close the beaches for prevention and we are aware, but in this case, we have no way of agreeing,” he said on  Friday.

According to the IFAM chief, this led to a virtual exchange with local spokesmen in the coastal areas of Guanacaste and with the mayor of Garabito himself.

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“The idea was to listen to arguments and concerns and bring those concerns to the health authorities and make a consideration. The Government has shown a willingness to maintain dialogue and we transferred the arguments received,” he added.

“Sanitary measures are taken by sanitary orders. If not, we would expose the population and health personnel. Next Tuesday there will be a meeting with municipalities, whose only point is the beach schedule based on an analysis of epidemiological teams and updated data to take into consideration,” Morera indicated.

He insisted that the idea is not to impose sanctions but to promote dialogue, but he did call not to make unilateral decisions, but jointly to take actions that protect life.

“This is not only thinking about these days, but what comes for February, Easter, when foreign visits to beaches will even depend on the epidemiological situation,” Morera launched.

González, for his part, emphasized that authorities want to proceed with caution. “We don’t want hospital services to be saturated,” he emphasized.

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