Semana Santa, or Easter Holy Week, for many may be a time of prayer and solemn processions, but a good number of Ticos opt for a beach vacation. While coastal destinations invariably will be crowded from now until after Easter on April 24, the capital city of San José will be pleasantly free of congestion.
With much of the population traveling during this time, the Traffic Police will be out in force on the highways, checking cars and watching for reckless or drunken drivers, and armed with the new Traffic Law and its stiff fines.
Most businesses will be closed on Holy Thursday and Good Friday (April 21 and 22), and a dry law prohibits the sale of alcohol from midnight Wednesday until midnight Saturday.
The following is a list of what’s open and what’s closed during Semana Santa.
Government offices: Following an edict from the Casa Presidencial, most government offices will be closed April 18-22.
Hospitals and pharmacies: Rest assured that public hospital emergency rooms will remain open 24 hours a day. The Red Cross (1028 or 911) and National Insurance Institute (INS, 800-800-8000) also will attend to emergencies at all hours.
The emergency rooms and pharmacies at private hospitals Clínica Bíblica (2522-1000), in downtown San José, Clínica Católica (2283-6616), in the northeastern suburb of Guadalupe, and CIMA (2208-1000), in the western suburb of Escazú, also will be open 24 hours a day.
Banks: Most BAC San José (2295-9797), Scotiabank (2210-4000), Banco Nacional (2211-2000), Banco de Costa Rica (2287-9000) and Banco Popular (2211-7000) branches will operate as usual Monday through Wednesday and will close Thursday and be back in operation on Monday, April 25. HSBC branches will be closed from 3 p.m. Wednesday until Monday. Citibank branches will be closed Thursday through Saturday; its shopping-mall branches in Multiplaza del Este, Multiplaza Escazú, Paseo de las Flores and Terramall will be open as usual on Sunday, April 24. Call Banco Promérica (2505-7000) and Bancrédito (2551-3011) for their schedules.
Supermarkets: The dry law will be in effect from Wednesday at midnight through Saturday. Bars will be sealed shut and restaurants and supermarkets will be prohibited from selling liquor, including wine and beer, for the 72-hour period.
Auto Mercado stores (2257-4242) in the Central Valley will be open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday, except for the Multiplaza and Los Yoses stores, which will close at 9 p.m., and the downtown San José store, which will be open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day. On Friday, all stores will be open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., except the downtown San José and Los Yoses stores, which will be closed.
Muñoz y Nanne (2253-4646), in the eastern suburb of San Pedro, will operate as usual except on Friday, when it will be open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saretto (2228-6703), in Escazú, will be closed Thursday and Friday.
Most Más x Menos (2243-7100) stores will be open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, except for the store in Jacó, on the central Pacific coast, which will be open until 10 p.m. Thursday and until 9 p.m. Friday. Stores in Cuesta de Moras in San José and in Alajuela, northwest of the capital, will be closed Thursday and Friday. Hipermás/Walmart (2286-0033) stores will be open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Most Palí stores (2243-7100) will close Thursday and Friday.
Call the Megasuper supermarket chain (2246-0400) for its schedules.
PriceSmart (2283-4494) stores will be closed on Friday only.
Mail and shipping: Correos de Costa Rica (2202-2900), Aerocasillas (2208-4848), DHL (2209-6000) and FedEx (800-463-3339) will be closed from Thursday until Monday.
Embassies: The British Embassy (2258-2025) will be closed from Thursday until Tuesday, April 26. The Canadian (2242-4400), U.S. (2220-3939) and French (2234-4167) embassies will be closed from Thursday until Monday.
Veterinarians: The National University (UNA) veterinary hospital in Barreal de Heredia (2260-9234) is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Dr. Bitter’s clinics in San José and Escazú (2227-5017) will be closed Thursday and Friday. Dr. Adrián Molina (2228-1909) in Escazú will be closed Thursday through Saturday.