(QCOSTARICA) The Government committed to orange zone mayors easing vehicle restrictions and allow some businesses to operate during the closure phases (August 10 to 21) of the pandemic.
In a meeting with the mayors, President Carlos Alvarado offered to unify the vehicle restriction schedule between orange and yellow alert zones, expand the list of businesses with operating permits during the closings, and allow some of the opening of some communities with less transmission orange zones.
Those were the agreements that, according to San Jose mayor, Johnny Araya, Alvarado promised to fulfill after a three-hour meeting with the mayors of the different communities in the greater metropolitan area.
Earlier this week, the mayors of Santa Ana, Escazu and Mora threatened to withdraw the support of the municipal police for the surveillance of the vehicle restriction, as well as the withdrawal of cars and drivers to carry out tests and distribute medicines from the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS), and allow businesses with operating permits under their jurisdiction to stay open.
On August 5, the National Emergency Commission (CNE) demoted canton of Mora from orange to yellow alert, along with several other districts in the cantons of Alajuela, Heredia, Desamparados and San Jose.
The National Emergency Commission (CNE) is the government agency that maintains vigilant of all types of risks in all areas of the country, including the pandemic.
Other mayors have submitted proposals to the Central Government to reduce alertness in some of their districts, such as Tibás, Moravia, Goicoechea, and Coronado.
The mayor of San José and president of the National Union of Local Governments (UNGL), stated after the meeting that they will give a period of truce for the Executive Power to fulfill its commitments.
“This meeting occurs at a time of disagreement, between local governments with the Executive Branch for a series of provisions that have been taken in handling the crisis (…) However, a dialogue has been opened and we have advanced on some important issues.
“I have to admit that there has been an opening. In some way these measures make the situation (for us) more flexible, however, we hope that very soon they will announce how these agreements will materialize by the Government and the National Emergency Commission (CNE),” said Araya.
The mayor of the capital city did not give details on what would be the new vehicle restrictions for the entire country, saying the Presidency will be in charge of informing the population in a timely manner. He also did not specify which businesses would have an operating permit in the middle of the week of closings, or the timing of the period of truce.
In a press release, the government confirmed these agreements.
In addition, it added that the mayors will find out about the measures before the announcements are made in press conferences.
Leonardo Chacón, mayor of Dota – the only canton in the country not to have one single case of coronavirus – and president of the National Association of Mayors and Intendants (ANAI), affirmed that the agreement was positive for all parties.
“We have managed to talk about several important points such as the economic reactivation where a study is going to be done to allow the reopening of some premises. We have also managed to reach a consensus on a permanent dialogue where the mayors will be present,” said Chacón.
On the allowing of commercial activities during Mother’s Day, August 15, President Alvarado did not budge, according to Araya.
The mayor said there was no consensus on the issue on mayor’s request of at some days of opening dealing up to Mother’s Day.
“We received a broad explanation of how the epidemiological variables are managed and the impact that these openings have with respect to hospital beds and intensive care, and in that we did find that there is no provision for this opening,” said Araya.
The meeting between Alvarado and the mayors was also attended by Alexander Solís, president of the National Emergency Commission (CNE), and Marcela Guerrero, president of the Institute for Municipal Development and Advice (IFAM).
The meeting with municipal regime organizations occurs a day after the National Union of Local Governments (UNGL) elected Johnny Araya as its executive president.
Disputes between local governments and the Executive Branch over the closure measures began to emerge in mid-July, when the mayor of Garabito (that includes the popular tourist destination of Playa Jaco), Tobías Murillo, threatened the Presidency with a revolt against the measures if they do not lower the alert status of their canton.
A day later, the National Emergency Commission granted Garabito the yellow alert, allowing the mayor to continue with his economic reopening process.