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Costa Rica restricts truck entry at border to contain pandemic

May 18, 2020

Costa Rican authorities on Monday began to restrict the entry of cargo trucks through its borders to contain the spread of COVID-19 after 50 carriers tested positive for the coronavirus.

Under the guidelines adopted by Costa Rica, truckers who enter through the northern border with Nicaragua are escorted by caravan by police to the border with Panama, if that is their destination.

Those who would deliver cargo to Costa Rica must leave the container at the border so that a local carrier can take it to its destination — ensuring that the driver does not enter the country.

“The measures that the country has taken since the beginning have been to safeguard the health of our population,” Health Minister Daniel Salas said Monday. “In this same dynamic, evaluating the risks, the carriers have been measured.”

The restrictions were adopted to eliminate the agglomerations that have formed in the last two weeks on the northern border, when COVID-19 tests began to be carried out on all truckers entering Costa Rica, forcing them to wait at least 24 hours for the test result.

The new measures make testing for the coronavirus unnecessary but caused annoyance between Costa Rican business chambers and truckers.

Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo questioned the Costa Rican measures on Monday, saying that they are being discussed in the Council of Ministers for Economic Integration of Central America.

Reports from Nicaraguan media suggested the country intended to close its border with Costa Rica.

“This transit (of merchandise) is essential and at the same time there are agreements from the countries of Central America that cannot or should not be annulled without consultation with all the countries,” Murillo told Nicaraguan official media.

The Chamber of Exporters of Costa Rica expressed its concern about the measures, which in its opinion “have a negative impact” on regional trade, and asked to cancel them to avoid pressure from truckers.

About 20% of Costa Rican foreign trade is done with Central American countries and, of that total, 90% is mobilized by cargo trucks, according to official data.

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