(QCOSTARICA) Some 85 tourist companies in the northern areas of Costa Rica fear that they will sink completely, given the imposition of new measures in that region, to combat an outbreak of coronavirus.
The situation would affect around 10,000 workers of tourism companies, who have been out of work since March, warned the president of Arenal Chamber of Tourism and Commerce, Tadeo Morales.
This region maintained some hope of reactivation and of re-hiring staff after the reopening of hotels with less than 20 rooms on May 16, and the rest of hotels on June 1, in both cases at 50% capacity.
However, an outbreak of the coronavirus in the past week, forcing the Ministry of Health to declare an “orange alert”, including the important tourist destination of La Fortuna de Carlos.
The alert, a temporary measure for at least two weeks, restricts vehicular transit from 5:00 pm to 5:00 am every day, and commerce with limited operations during the week and closed on weekends.
But more than that, the impact of the events among potential tourists will be devastating, the tourism entrepreneurs consider.
Morales assured that the problem of increased infection occurs in two packing plants, close to the communities of Los Angeles, La Perla and Sonafruca, which are more than 30 kilometers from the center of La Fortuna and Arenal.
The critical situation led to the meeting of authorities from the Ministry of Health, the National Emergency Commission (CNE) and the San Carlos municipality on Monday morning, June 8, with tourism entrepreneurs.
“Unfortunately, the Ministry of Health is staying firm in that the entire district of La Fortuna has to take measures and we are asking that containment measures be taken in the communities where the outbreaks of contagion are, which are Los Angeles, Sonafruca and La Perla, which are more than 30 kilometers away, ” Morales said after the meeting.
Meanwhile and in the usual press conference to update the COVID-19, the Health Minister, Daniel Salas, insisted on several occasions that the collaboration of businessmen is required to contain the second wave of the pandemic the area is experiencing..
The president of the Chamber of Exporters of Costa Rica (Cadexco), Laura Bonilla, recalled that the responsible entrepreneurs are committed to the situation.
“Obviously, corporate responsibility is an issue that serious businessmen have taken from the first moment, but in the northern zone, it cannot be denied that there is a special situation in the face of the humanitarian crisis that Nicaragua is experiencing and that, unfortunately, it is pressing migratory flows of people in illegal conditions,” highlighted Bonilla.
“The responsible companies,” she added, “are taking the necessary actions, but without a doubt, we have a crisis in this area that requires the accompaniment of the Government and international organizations.”
Morales, as well as Mario Mikowski, of Tabacón hotels, in La Fortuna, and Nantipa, in Santa Teresa de Cóbano, agreed that the few options after the reopening were closed.
“For now, the (orange) alert has managed to close the trickle of jobs that had been recovered by the opening of the hotels. Officially we are entering an unprecedented crisis since we have 10,000 tourism-dependent jobs with three months without income,” said Morales.
Meanwhile, Mikowski saw his hopes threatened, as this weekend Tabacón was fully filled to the 50% capacity allowed. “People have been responding very well; They want to help us, but there is a certain fear in the Costa Rican tourist and this will affect us,” said the businessman.
The only thing they could achieve at the meeting, Morales continued, was a promise from Dr. Rodrigo Marín, from Health Surveillance, to bring the concerns to the high-level commission for consideration.
“La Fortuna wants to work hand in hand with the authorities to contain the contagion. There are about 40 foreign workers in the packing plants that have more than 100 employees. While the area has a population of some 25,000 people,” Morales said.
“Imagine,” he continued, “that Dr. Marín says that the packing plants are not going to close, but the hotels are being closed.”