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Hotel reservation won’t work as exception to driving restrictions this week [Updated]

July 11, 2020

Update: After the Saturday afternoon press conference, the Costa Rican government has apparently changed its mind on this subject.

According to the Costa Rican Tourism Board, anyone currently at a hotel (or with a reservation starting Sunday, July 12) and with a reservation ending between July 12-19 can return home, even on days in which they would otherwise have driving restrictions.

Drivers must carry a physical copy of their reservation confirmation and cannot drive after 5 p.m.

Earlier Saturday, the Public Security Ministry had asserted that a hotel reservation would not except drivers from transiting mid-week in Orange Alert areas.

Note that the exception is only for those who need to return home from a hotel during the week; people residing in a canton under an Orange Alert still cannot use a hotel reservation as a valid excuse to drive to a hotel between Monday, July 13 and Friday, July 17.

Our original story follows… 

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A hotel reservation won’t exempt many drivers from the weekday vehicular restrictions this week, Costa Rica’s Public Security Ministry confirmed Saturday.

For those who reside in a region under an Orange Alert, Costa Rica is enforcing a near-total vehicular restriction. While a hotel reservation has served as an exception to prior driving bans, that won’t be the case in Orange Alert cantons from July 13-17, Public Security Minister Michael Soto said.

“There remains an exception to the vehicular restrictions to go and return from hotels with proper documentation,” Soto said. “But this is for weekends only.

“On the weekends — this weekend and the next — there exists that possibility, but during the week you don’t have that possibility.”

Drivers caught violating the vehicular restrictions face a 107,000-colón fine (about $185) and the confiscation of their license plates.

Soto asked that people in Orange Alert areas heed requests to stay home.

“The idea is that the zones that are more complex, the ones that are under an Orange Alert — as is all of the Greater Metropolitan Area — remain in a situation of not mobilizing,” he said.

For regions of the country under a Yellow Alert, vehicle circulation is allowed on weekends from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on weekdays from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. maintaining previous license-plate restrictions “and the complete list of exceptions,” according to Casa Presidencial.

(Yes, this is all quite confusing. We recommend using La Restricción to double-check your license plate before driving.)

Much of Costa Rica under Orange Alert

In regions under an Orange Alert, there is a near-total weekday vehicular restriction. This applies 24 hours a day:

  • Monday: Vehicles with license plates ending in 1 and 2 can drive to essential services (pharmacies, health centers, supermarkets) only. Vehicles with license plates ending in other numbers cannot circulate.
  • Tuesday: Vehicles with license plates ending in 3 and 4 can drive to essential services only. Vehicles with license plates ending in other numbers cannot circulate.
  • Wednesday: Vehicles with license plates ending in 5 and 6 can drive to essential services only. Vehicles with license plates ending in other numbers cannot circulate.
  • Thursday: Vehicles with license plates ending in 7 and 8 can drive to essential services only. Vehicles with license plates ending in other numbers cannot circulate.
  • Friday: Vehicles with license plates ending in 9 and 0 can drive to essential services only. Vehicles with license plates ending in other numbers cannot circulate.
  • Weekends: There is a total nighttime restriction from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. During the day (5 a.m. to 5 p.m.):
    • Vehicles with license plates ending in ODD numbers can drive to essential services on Saturday.
    • Vehicles with license plates ending in EVEN numbers can drive to essential services on Sundays.

Workers are permitted to drive to their places of employment but must carry proper documentation. Public transport will continue operating at 20% capacity; taxis can continue operating without restrictions.

Click here for a full list of exceptions to this week’s driving restrictions.

Below is a list and map of all areas in Costa Rica under an Orange Alert:

Orange alert in Costa Rica as of July 11, 2020.
Orange alert in Costa Rica as of July 11, 2020. Via CNE.
Map of Orange Alert in Costa Rica as of July 11, 2020.
Map of Orange Alert in Costa Rica as of July 11, 2020. Via CNE.

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