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Costa Rica begins lifting coronavirus restrictions today. But many businesses are staying closed

April 30, 2020

Costa Rica began easing some coronavirus measures Friday in an effort to gradually reactivate the country’s economy without provoking a health crisis.

Theaters, cinemas, gyms and athletic centers, which had been closed since mid-March, are now permitted to operate under strict sanitary guidelines.

But many aren’t opening their doors quite yet.

The Physical Conditioning Centers of Costa Rica (CAFCO) said in a statement that the majority of the gyms it represents won’t open until May 11.

“With the goal of improving conditions of hygiene and security for our customers and for all Costa Ricans, the majority of our affiliate gyms have made the decision to wait until May 11,” CAFCO said.

“We are in communication with authorities to enable our personnel to meet the protocols established by the Health Ministry.”

Similarly, the Chamber of Distributors and Cinematographic Exhibitors of Costa Rica (CADEC) says theaters are prioritizing the implementation of sanitary measures and will open, all together, at a future date.

“We know that these new sanitary procedures require the union and complicity between each cinema company, its collaborators and its clients, since we will all be important parts of the correct implementation of these measures,” said Ramón María Yglesias Piza, executive director of CADEC.

“Therefore, until we are all aligned, that is when we will give the signal to start operating.”

As of Friday, gyms can operate during the week at 25% of their rated capacity. They must also offer reservations and special hours for at-risk populations. Likewise, movie theaters can open during the week so long as they guarantee two meters (6.5 feet) of separation between guests and implement electronic ticketing.

CADEC said that while cinemas won’t reopen immediately, the industry received the Health Ministry’s announcement “with great enthusiasm and deep commitment.”

“Our priority is that our collaborators are safe, working in a suitable and clean environment, and under this premise, that our clients find the cinemas totally clean,” Yglesias said.

While CADEC didn’t indicate when movie theaters would reopen, Cine Magaly in San José estimated it could occur sometime between May 14 and May 21.

“Those dates may coincide with the possibility of also offering evening shows, or perhaps weekend exhibitions,” the historic Barrio La California theater told The Tico Times.

In addition to the gym- and cinema-specific guidelines, the Health Ministry says all open businesses must adhere to a list of general directives that include revamping cleaning standards and guaranteeing social distancing.

If Costa Rica continues its relative success in controlling spread of the coronavirus, more businesses will be given the go-ahead to work toward their own reopening, according to the government.

“The work of all people — all Costa Ricans and all residents — is critical for us to have ongoing success, like the relative but fragile success we’ve had so far,” said President Carlos Alvarado.

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