QCOSTARICA – Staring Monday, August 9 and for the entire month of August, the vehicle restriction will take effect at 10 pm, that is, one hour later than what had been applied in recent months.
Restaurants, bars and other businesses will be able to extend their hours of operation, which would be from 5 am to 10 pm.
As has been for the last weeks, from Monday to Friday two plates daily will be restricted, and on weekends the alternation of even and odd plates.
This was confirmed this afternoon at the press conference from Casa Presidencial by the Minister of Health, Daniel Salas, the executive president of the National Emergency Commission, Alexander Solis, and the Minister of Commerce, Victoria Hernandez.
While some measures are relaxed, the capacity in bars will remain at 25% of their capacity, hotels with more than 100 rooms also will maintain operating at 75% of their capacity and, buses to operate without standing passengers.
The changes are in establishments for artistic activities (cinemas and theaters) with valid sanitary permits may expand up to 500 people, while maintaining distancing of 1.8 meters.
Beaches will be able to remain open for two more hours, to 8 pm starting Monday.
Also starting this Monday, the futbol 5 fields can be operational again, under the guidelines of the National Amateur Football League.
In addition, up to 26 people per car will be allowed to stand up on the train service of the Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles (Incofer).
Social event rooms have their capacity increased from 75 to 100 people and all national parks will now be able to function at 100% of their capacity, but with the application of the rest of the measures in force to prevent contagion of covid-19 such as handwashing, distancing and use of the mask.
Other expanded capacity includes academic, business and worship activities, going from 300 to 500 people.
Starting Monday, August 9, 2021 and until August 31, 2021, the plates restricted are as follows:
- Mondays, vehicles with plates ending in 1 & 2 cannot circulate
- Tuesdays, vehicles with plates ending in 3 & 5 cannot circulate
- Wednesdays, vehicles with plates ending in 5 & 6 cannot circulate
- Thursdays, vehicles with plates ending in 7 & 8 cannot circulate
- Fridays, vehicles with plates ending in 9 & 0 cannot circulate
On the weekends, the alternate even and odd will prevail for each weekend.
From 10:00 pm to 5:00 am all vehicles are restricted from circulating unless they are in the well-known exempt list. See the official exemption list here.
Not to expect greater opening
Minister Salas was clear that we are to expect greater opening, that is more relaxation of sanitary measures while the vaccination of 83% of the population (4,274,344 people) is not achieved.
“Greater commercial opening is complex. We have to go in stages, and as long as we do not have that herd immunity we cannot expect greater openings.
“There is no magic formula for all of us to be satisfied,” added Salas.
Additionally, the Government justified that this month’s restrictions seek to prevent the delta variant from promoting the rise in covid-19 infections.
In addition, they ensure that the occupancy of beds in Intensive Care Units (ICU) is above 100%.
“I would like to be saying today ‘we remove the restriction altogether’ but, we are still with ICU occupancy above 100%, Costa Rica is in critical condition, not as we were five weeks ago but, we have been decreasing and now the delta variant is driving the rise,” said the minister.
Business sector not happy
The new measures announced this Friday that will apply for the rest of this month were not to the liking of the business sector.
The Costa Rican Union of Chambers and Associations of the Private Business Sector (Uccaep) denounced that the Government had “little interest” in listening to their requests and applying technical criteria to adjust the restrictions.
“The business leadership considers that the decision to extend the vehicle restriction for only one hour and the attention of establishments with a health permit to operate will contribute very little to avoiding the loss of more jobs in the formal private sector,” the Union said in a statement.
For the Chamber of Industries of Costa Rica, the measures are “unacceptable” deeming the flexibility is insufficient, which, they argue, is contrary to economic reactivation.
Retailers, for their part, called for “reconsideration” of the decision, as they requested that the restriction take effect at 11 pm.
“The infections are not occurring in businesses where protocols and measures are widely followed that allow both employees and visitors to be in a safe environment. The fact that businesses remain closed at night has only led to clandestine parties where sanitary protocols are not respected,” said Arturo Rosabal, vice president of the Chamber of Commerce.
Mixed reaction from the public
Gauging from the reactions and comments on social networks, the public appears mixed on the new measures.
Some used strong and colorful language against President Carlos Alvarado and his ministers, while others were understanding given the current rise in new infections, increase in hospitalizations, and deaths.