Rico’s Digest – Costa Rica has joined the other countries of the Americas, Colombia, Panama, El Salvador, many of the states in the US and Europe issuing  “stay-at-home” orders or lockdown, but Costa Rica’s is a little different, “a la Tica” (Costa Rican style), if you will.

A stay-at-home order is an order from an authority to restrict movements of the population as a mass quarantine strategy for suppressing or mitigating an epidemic or pandemic by ordering residents to stay home except for essential tasks or going to work in essential businesses. Similar measures have been used around the world, but the term lockdown is used instead.

What is the difference in Costa Rica you ask?

The governors of Ticolandia know perfectly well that most Costa Ricans will NOT respect any order to stay-at-home, not to go to the mall, the beach, the park, eating out. Ticos also need to stay close together in just about everything and staying at home limits the agglomeration.

So, how do you keep your populace at home, stop them from going out when you know well it would be listened to.

Every day, Health Minister Dr. Daniel Salas and Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado repeat the same message, over and over, at ad nauseam.

Has it worked? No.

For example, everyone seems to have made the last-minute mad dash to head to the supermarket before the 5:00 pm closing, creating congestion well past the witching hour.

So, how do you get the Tico to listen? Hit him or her where it hurts the most, the “carrito”.

You won’t stay home because I tell you, then you will if you can’t drive has to have been the concept of the Executive Branch in drafting the vehicle restrictions, limiting the number of cars that can circulate during the day and a total ban at night.

By hastily getting a bill approved, signed and in effect in less than a week was key to this plan, a bill that in an instant upped the violation of the restrictions from the joke of ¢23,000 colones to a now more substantial amount, ¢107,000, points of the driver’s license and the seizure of plates or vehicle, now made it serious.

Serious enough, probably not.

You say, but not everyone has a car?

Yes, that is true. But times have changed. Many today in Costa Rica have a car. And almost everyone knows of someone who has a car or someone that knows someone who has a car.

And to be complete in this restricting of vehicles, the governors have also choked off access to public transportation (buses) and ride apps like Uber. During the coming days, buses will still run, albeit at a limited capacity and runs and distance. Come Wednesday, April 8, there will be no buses either. Only taxis, the red cars that once used to be the favorite mode of transportation of Ticos.

Closing of the malls, beaches, parks, restaurants, hotels, resorts, basically any commercial venture that requires a Health permit to have face-to-face dealing with customers, and with the vehicular restrictions, you have effectively locked down the country, putting under a stay-at-home, without calling it a lockdown or stay at home.

Will it work? I can only hope so. Although the strict vehicular restrictions are for Semana Santa, from 5:00 pm April 3 to 11:59 pm April 12, if the number of infected keeps on climbing out of proportion, the number of sick keeps increasing, you can bet that the tight restrictions will most likely be continued past April 12.

You read it here first. Spread the word, not the virus.

We will get through this as long as we maintain the distance that unites us.

Stay at home. Stay safe. Stay healthy.


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