QCOSTARICA – Most shopping centers in Costa Rica rule out requesting their customers QR codes for complete vaccination against covid-19 when entering, their spokespersons confirmed.
They prefer to continue at 50% of their capacity so as not to expose themselves to potential claims from clients who have not yet received the code, just when the payment of the Aguinaldo, the annual year-end bonus, starts to be in the hands of shoppers.
Malls, shopping centers, big box stores fear conflicts with those who allege a possible limitation to their rights as consumers, such as, for example, people who have requested the QR code but have not yet received it due to lateness from the institutions, others waiting to get their second dose and those who were vaccinated outside the country, 24,000 according to the Ministry of Health and whose data had not been included in the system.
Felipe Mora Quirós, manager of the Multiplaza Escazú and Multiplaza Curridabat shopping assured that they will continue at 50% of the capacity and this is also expected in their stores.
“We have never exceeded 100% capacity in our history. As a shopping center, we have been at 50% in this context of a pandemic even though this Thursday we made a brief exception in the food court of the food court to benefit the locals by opening all the available tables. However, due to disagreements with clients who arrived without the QR on Wednesday, it was decided not to request it again,” Mora explained.
Marcela Trejos, general manager of Oxígeno shopping center in Heredia, confirmed that they will not request the QR either and they will continue at 50% capacity. Trejos explained that its maximum capacity is 16,000, however, at peak times their best is 8,000 customers.
As an example, Trejos commented that the last Sunday they received 30,000 people throughout 11 hours of operation, but there were never more than 4,000 in the shopping at any given time, according to the mall’s electronic monitoring systems.
“That is why we made the decision for the entire mall. Placing personnel in each of the 13 entrances makes the operating cost for the business unfeasible. At the local level, each one of the retailers can request the QR at their discretion, but among more than 100 stores here, only one is requesting it for now,” she explained.
Julieta Bonilla Echeverría, spokeswoman for the Grupo de Centros Comerciales (Grupo CECO), a group that represents the shopping centers: Lincoln Plaza, Multicentro Desamparados, Paseo de las Flores, Paseo Metrópoli, City Mall Alajuela, Mall San Pedro, and Terramall, confirmed that no affiliate will ask for the code.
“In each shopping center, stores were offered the choice to work at 50% capacity without QR or 100% upon request. Virtually everyone prefers 50%, including the Cinépolis, Cinemark and Nova cinema chains. The Government is not ready for the QR yet, it is a good intention but poorly executed so far,” said the CECO spokeswoman and manager of Multicentro Desamparados.
Julio Castilla Peláez, president of the Costa Rican Chamber of Commerce, described as “frustrating” the alleged lack of dialogue by the Government to reach a consensus on the issue of the QR.
“We proposed not to apply QR because there is no guarantee that all people have obtained it or have had access to the two vaccines. It cannot be like this. Nobody wants to ask for it because we would be punishing people who cannot prove their vaccination even wanting to have the QR,” he insisted.
Castilla recalled that 74% of merchants in Costa Rica are made up of small retailers or independent professionals with small establishments for whom, in addition, it is complicated by operating cost to make this verification. Therefore, he added, they prefer to continue at 50% of their capacity.
“And there is the other issue that is not talked about, the same authorities that verify gauges are immersed in great confusion in general of how the same gauges are verified.
“Voluntarily applying the QR would only complicate things more for the establishments in case of inspections,” complained the Chamber spokesperson.