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News briefs: President laments amount of Friday night traffic

March 28, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted daily life in Costa Rica, which has declared a State of Emergency and enacted sweeping measures to slow its spread.

Here’s what you need to know today:

President Alvarado laments heavy weekend traffic

President Carlos Alvarado admonished the Costa Rican people after reports surfaced of heavy weekend traffic on Friday evening.

“We have received reports that many people are seen on the streets today,” he wrote on Twitter. “Costa Rica, we cannot let our guard down. If we have an irresponsible attitude toward COVID-19, in a few days more will be affected and hospitalized. Staying at home is saving lives. Let’s listen!”

The president urged the Public Security Ministry (MSP) to strictly enforce the nationwide vehicle restriction, which runs from 8 p.m to 5 a.m on weekends and 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. on weeknights.

On Saturday morning, MSP said it issued 266 fines on Friday night/Saturday morning to drivers violating the vehicular restriction — the largest amount since the measure was established earlier this week.

The Health Ministry has repeatedly urged that Costa Ricans stay home whenever possible.

Airport worker helps family return home

The below account was written by Tico Times reader Eva Hollbaum: 

Andres Chinchilla, an employee with United Airlines and working at the company’s counter at Juan Santamaría Airport, went WAY above and beyond the call of duty at a time when the airport was full of Europeans who were more or less desperately trying to find connections home.

Andres got us on the next United flight to Newark and from there to Toronto — even at a reasonable rate. But then he discovered that the US had canceled my ESTA (entry to the US) without telling me. So he immediately helped me re-apply, and even talked to his manager about closing the gate later than they normally do in the hope that my new ESTA did indeed go through (electronically) in time. IT DID! At the very last second, and we ran to the gate.

The rest of the trip also had its huge challenges, but after meeting Andres and his wonderful colleagues, we’d gotten new hope that we could indeed make it home before this crazy, new world shut down completely.

These are people who have no idea when there will be work in their field again, or how their economy will fare in times to come, yet they go to great lengths to help strangers in need. Thank you ever so much. You gave us hope when we needed it, and we are holding on to that during this difficult and fearful time for us all.

Thank you for 6 amazing weeks, Costa Rica; thank you to the hardworking, culturally and environmentally conscious ATEC organization in Puerto Viejo and its dedicated volunteers and employees; thank you to many small hotel owners and receptionists who have been incredibly helpful; to farmers and tribespeople, guides and restaurants; to bus drivers and the random woman in San José who warned us about which streets to stay away from. Thank you to many, many other people who were incredibly kind to us.

— Eva Hollbaum is from Copenhagen, Denmark. 

‘Costa Rica welcomes you back’

Costa Rican travel agency Costa Rica Escapes shared with us the above video — a message of positivity during these difficult times.

“We want to build upon this message of positivity,” said John Rabenau, co-founder of Costa Rica Escapes. “For all those stuck inside their houses dreaming of better days, we want to inspire them to keep their travel hopes and dreams alive. We feel strongly that this video promotes the country of Costa Rica and lets people know we are here and dealing with this unfortunate global situation, too … but we’ll be ready.”

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