Doubts about which retail stores, commercial centers, and businesses may remain open, their hours and mode of operation and who may circulate the roads next week, have generated a lot of anxiety among the population, as authorities clamp down in its strategy to stop the spread of the covid-19 in Costa Rica.
We’ve compiled a list of retail stores that may stay open during Samana Santa respecting the Health measures that apply from 5:00 pm Friday, April 3 to 11:59 pm Sunday, April 12.
Businesses that should not close are:
- Home delivery services.
- The institutions that, due to the nature of their functions, must remain open, such as the immigration, customs, phytosanitary services, land, sea, and air border posts, among others.
- Public and private health (clinics, pharmacies, hospitals, laboratories, doctor’s offices, diagnostic radiology services, emergency services, among others), as well as veterinary services.
- Supermarkets, bakeries, butchers, greengrocers, and pulperias (corner stores).
Businesses that must operate at 50% of their capacity:
- Establishments for the sale of agricultural supplies.
- Hygiene supply establishments.
- Public or private banking services.
- Funeral homes and/or chapels for funeral services.
- Public and private establishments where there is the commercialization of agricultural, livestock, fishing and aquaculture products, such as fairs and markets.
- The child care centers.
- Attention centers for people in vulnerable conditions.
- All those other establishments with sanitary operating permits that do not provide attention to the face-to-face public.
Starting at 5:00 pm today, Friday, April 3, the Ministry of Health ordered the closure of all other retail shops, including shopping centers and malls, in order to prevent and mitigate the risk of COVID-19 contagion during Easter, days when people are used to go out more.
Merchants who fail to comply with this measure may be closed by the Police and sanctions imposed.
Given the confusion, we answer some of the more frequently asked questions:
Does the vehicle restriction apply to bicycles and motorcycles?
– Yes, fo motorcycles, the restriction is based on the last number of the license plate (click here for help in that); No, bicycles are not restricted from circulation.
Can producers who bring their fruits and vegetables to fairs circulate any day?
– Yes, but the call is that they try to do it as little as possible and take the opportunity to stay at home for the holidays.
Can truckers or people who move construction supplies move?
– Yes, but they must demonstrate with relevant documentation such as a sales order for the product they are delivering or just delivered.
Can caregivers of terminally ill patients or the elderly travel in their private vehicle?
– Yes, but they must demonstrate their employment in the field.
What should the working document indicate for those who must work on the days that the extended restriction applies?
– Those persons who have to work during the restriction can do so without incurring sanctions as long as they have a letter from their employer. The Minister of Security, Micheal Soto, confirmed the confusion found during the nocturnal restrictions during the past week, calling on all authorities to accept the employer letter that must include information on the workplace, the employee’s address and their hours of work.
Will there be public transport for Semana Santa?
– There will be public transportation between Saturday, April 4 and Tuesday, April 7. However, buses traveling on routes of more than 75 km are restricted to two trips a day (one going and one coming). Starting Wednesday, April 8, there will only be official taxi services – the red taxis and orange taxis of the airport, authorized cargo taxis, and transportation of employees authorized by the Public Transportation Council (CTP).
Can motorcyclists who make home deliveries circulate during the restricted days?
– Yes, as long as they demonstrate that they are carrying out said delivery activity. All other motorcycles are prohibited.
How can officers ensure that a driver goes to the supermarket or pharmacy (between Wednesday the 8th and Sunday the 12th, when he will only be able to move for those purposes and by license plate number)?
– The driver will have to give a convincing explanation to the official. For example, if you are detained far from your place of residence or in a sparsely populated area, the officer could fine you.
The objective is here for people to visit their nearest supermarket, grocery store, pulperia, bakery, butcher, etc. You can expect a fine if you live in Santa Ana and are shopping in Escazu or San Pedro, for example.
The criteria and experience of the traffic police will apply. Have the store receipt handy.
What if I have to take a family member to work and they stop me when I no longer have that family member?
– You could be fined as the supporting documents for the working hours cover only the person who is going to work.
Will the ferry services that operate in the peninsular area be enabled?
– Starting Wednesday, April 8, there will be one service per day per direction, only for cargo transport and official vehicles.
Can greengrocers, butchers, grocery stores or bakeries that operate independently of a supermarket open?
– Yes, they are considered supply businesses.
What about the supermarkets and pharmacies that are inside shopping malls?
– Given that malls are ordered closed, the supermarkets, pharmacies and banks inside malls may reach an agreement with the mall administration so that they can remain open, even though the other premises are closed.
Will veterinary clinics, pharmacies and private centers that provide services such as dental and others be open?
Will the town fairs or farmer’s markets where agricultural or livestock products are sold open next week?
– Yes, they can operate, maintaining their capacity at 50% and complying with the Health recommendations.
Can public and private banking services operate?
– They can operate maintaining their capacity at 50%. Most will be open until Wednesday, April 8 and the closed on Thursday, April 9 and Good Friday, April 10, being legal holidays.
Can self-service restaurants work?
– No. Only for home delivery.
Can greengrocers, butchers, pulperias (corner stores) or bakeries that operate independently of a supermarket open?
– Yes, they are considered supply businesses.
Will gas stations be open?
– Yes, some apply voluntary closures in full others only partially in response to traffic volume due to the vehicular restrictions. It would be fair to say that most will not likely operate on a 24 hour basis, closing nightly while maintaining service during the day.
If I have to go to a medical appointment or a health emergency, can I go in my vehicle?
– Yes, you must demonstrate such an appointment. In an emergency to a clinic or hospital, you should, if stopped, explain the emergency and request an escort if warranted.
Thursday afternoon, the Ministry of Health updated the list of Health provisions related to the temporary closure of establishments that have Health operating permits.
It was included that “car rental” establishments may open only for the purpose of providing assistance services to already rented vehicles, as well as receive returning vehicles.
In addition, hotels can stay open only to:
- Foreign tourists who are already in the country.
- Flight crews or special services cases.
- Long-stay tourists or residents of the hotel.
- Provide services to the Public Administration for the attention of the crisis by national emergency.
- Provide services to embassies.
The closures and vehicular restrictions are countrywide.