Tuesday 28 September 2021

Government eases restrictions in the GAM

Under the pressure from all sides, the government of Carlos Alvarado reacted with unified vehicular restrictions and more stores opening during the 'closed' period of August 10 to 21

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(QCOSTARICA) Bowing to pressure from different sectors of the economy, the Costa Rica government ease commercial restrictions for the cantons on orange alert of the Greater Metropolitan Areas (GAM), for the ‘closed’ phase of the month, from August 10 to 21.

On Saturday it announced that starting Monday, supermarkets, groceries, corner stores, pulperias, etc, will be able to keep all their sections open while maintaining the 50% capacity provisions. In the past lockdowns, they had to close off any non-food or essentials (ie medicines, cleaning suppliers) to customers.

Contrary to the original ‘closed’ regimen, also starting Monday, restaurants, sodas, food courts and retail stores are allowed to open. According to the Ministery of Health, all establishments are required to observe the 50% capacity rule.

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Beauty salons and barbershops will also be able to open, but by appointment only, according to the explanation provided by the Minister of Economy, Victoria Hernández.

However, on the weekend of August 15 and 16 (Mother’s Day), these establishments will be closed, “except for supermarkets in relation to the section for the sale of food, beverages, groceries, cleaning and hygiene supplies, and basic needs, with a fifty percent (50%) occupancy capacity”.

In cantons on yellow alert, the rest of the country, commerce will be able to operate on a regular basis.

The Minister of Health, Daniel Salas, explained away the technical reasons – projections of the behavior of the virus, risk factors and other items considered – for this change of course, but did not mention the protests across the GAM during the week, including the protest from the early hours of Saturday morning in front of President Alvarado’s residence or the meeting earlier in the week with a group GAM mayors with demands of their own.

Saturday morning protests outside the residence of President Carlos Alvarado

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Saturday morning protests outside the residence of President Carlos Alvarado

Following the mayor’s meeting, the government promised to extend the hours of vehicle restriction and flexibility with commerce during the closing phase.

Vehicular restrictions

Those expecting a major change in the next 12 days were disappointed. The only real change to the vehicular restrictions announced for this month, as it refers to the period of August 10 to 21 is extended operating hours in the GAM, while taking away an hour from the yellow alert areas.

Starting Monday, there will be a unified vehicular restriction across the board, save for the border districts, that maintain vehicular restrictions from 5:00 am to 5:00 pm.

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Starting Monday, the daytime vehicular restrictions are from 5:00 am to 9:00 pm on weekdays and from 5:00 am to 7:00 pm on weekends based on the last digit of the license plate.

In orange alert areas (5 am to 9 pm)

  • Mondays, plates ending in 1 & 2 CAN ONLY circulate
  • Tuesdays, plates ending in 3 & 4 CAN ONLY circulate
  • Wednesdays, plates ending in 5 & 6 CAN ONLY circulate
  • Thursdays, plates ending in 7 & 8 CAN ONLY circulate
  • Fridays, plates ending in 9 & 0 CAN ONLY circulate
  • Saturday, August 15 plates ending in 1,3,5,7 & 9 CAN ONLY circulate
  • Sunday, August 16 plates ending in 0,2,4,6 & 8 CAN ONLY circulate

In yellow alert areas (5 am to 9 pm)

  • Mondays, plates ending in 1 & 2 CANNOT circulate
  • Tuesdays, plates ending in 3 & 4 CANNOT circulate
  • Wednesdays, plates ending in 5 & 6 CANNOT circulate
  • Thursdays, plates ending in 7 & 8 CANNOT circulate
  • Fridays, plates ending in 9 & 0 CANNOT circulate
  • Saturday, August 15 plates ending in 1,3,5,7 & 9 CANNOT circulate
  • Sunday, August 16 plates ending in 0,2,4,6 & 8 CANNOT circulate

In both orange and yellow alert areas, there is a total vehicular restriction from 9:00 pm to 5:00 am on weekdays and from 7:00 pm to 5:00 am on weekends.

The well-known exemptions apply in all areas.

The detailed official alert information can be found here.

When making the announcement, Salas emphasized that the restrictions aim to avoid movement between the cantons, in particular from orange to yellow, to reduce the spread of contagion from any area to another.

“Ideally, they (people) should not go out, that they consume as much as possible in their canton. That they go to supermarkets, restaurants, shops, as far as possible within their canton. This helps us a lot so that contact networks and transmission chains do not spread,” said Minister Salas.

He added: “I want to mention that we are moving towards a model of joint responsibility. We must all move the country forward and, for that, we need the maximum application of our efforts to implement the sanitary measures that are recommended.”

This Saturday, Salas registered 721 new cases of COVID-19 (135 identified by nexus and 586 by a test).

In total, since the first case was presented in Costa Rica in Mach, the cumulative is 22,802 positive patients. Of that total, there are 7,589 people recovered in 80 cantons.

Dr. Salas reported 360 people are in hospital, 80 of which are intensive care; 10 new deaths were reported on Saturday, for a total of 228.


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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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