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Costa Rica is enforcing strict measures this week. Here’s what’s open

July 13, 2020

Costa Rica is enforcing strict measures throughout much of the country this week in order to better trace coronavirus outbreaks in the Greater Metropolitan Area.

Here’s what’s open (and what isn’t) in Costa Rica for the week of July 13-19, 2020.

Non-essential businesses closed in Orange Alert areas

In areas of the country under an Orange Alert, non-essential businesses are largely closed. (See the end of this story for a list and map of Orange Alert areas.)

Here’s what can be open in Orange Alert cantons:

  • Essential productive activities and their supply chains. (Examples include: agriculture, production of pharmaceutical products, information and communication technology services and call centers.)
  • Supermarkets and grocery stores. Only sales of food, beverages, groceries, cleaning and hygiene supplies, and other basic needs are permitted.
  • Bakeries, butchers and greengrocers.
  • Pharmacies and medical centers.
  • Home service / delivery (exclusive for food/restaurant delivery, pharmacy delivery, or at-home veterinary, hardware or locksmith services).
  • Agricultural, veterinary and hygiene supplies.
  • Funeral homes.
  • Child-care centers, and centers of care for people in vulnerable conditions.
  • Hotels that provide accommodation to public administration officials or public-service providers.
  • Farmer’s markets.

Public institutions must maximize telework; many government services have canceled appointments this week. This includes license-plate returns at COSEVI.

Businesses as usual in Yellow Alert areas

Cantons under a Yellow Alert remain in Phase 3 of reopening. This means most businesses (including hotels and restaurants) can open during the week and on weekends; religious ceremonies are permitted; and beaches are open from 5-9:30 a.m. daily.

Strict vehicular restrictions

In regions under an Orange Alert, there is a total nighttime restriction from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. There is a near-total daytime vehicular restriction from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. as follows:

  • 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.
  • Saturday and Sunday: There is a national 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.

There are some exceptions. Workers are permitted to drive to/from their places of employment but must carry proof of employment. On weekdays, tourists can return home from hotels until 5 p.m. but must carry a printout of the hotel reservation. Driving to/from Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) is allowed, using a flight confirmation as proof.

You can also drive to a medical center in an emergency or for a scheduled appointment (with proof of said appointment).

The full list of exceptions for Orange Alert driving is here.

In cantons under a Yellow Alert, driving is largely permitted from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. except as follows:

  • Monday: Vehicles with license plates ending in 1, 2 cannot drive.
  • Tuesday: Vehicles with license plates ending in 3, 4 cannot drive.
  • Wednesday: Vehicles with license plates ending in 5, 6 cannot drive.
  • Thursday: Vehicles with license plates ending in 7, 8 cannot drive.
  • Friday: Vehicles with license plates ending in 9, 0 cannot drive.
  • Weekend: There is a total national 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.

Confused? You’re not alone. Use La Restricción to double-check what days your vehicle can circulate.

International travel still TBD

Costa Rica’s current border restrictions end at 11:59 p.m. on August 1.

The Health Ministry said in late June that Costa Rica will begin allowing tourists from countries with controlled coronavirus transmission, following protocols that have yet to be announced. However, there has not been any update on this topic so far in July.

Costa Rican citizens are permitted to enter the country. Non-citizen residents who last left the country on or before March 24 can also enter Costa Rica. All must isolate at home for 14 days.

All ongoing repatriation flights operate from Juan Santamaría International Airport near San José. The airport’s expectation of when airlines will resume operations is linked here.

Orange and Yellow Alert Cantons

Below is the full list of cantons under an Orange Alert as of Sunday, July 11. All other cantons are under a Yellow 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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