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Costa Rica announces coronavirus restrictions for August [Updated]

August 5, 2020

We last updated this story on Tuesday, August 4. 

The National Emergency Commission (CNE) announced the schedule for Costa Rica’s August coronavirus measures.

The following measures will apply in the month of August. They are confusing; please bear with us.

The Costa Rican Presidency has created this Spanish-language site with official documentation of the August restrictions.

‘Open’ and ‘closed’ phases

From August 1 through August 9, and from August 22 through August 30, most establishments with sanitary permits (e.g. most commercial businesses) are allowed to operate nationwide.

From August 10 through August 21, there will be a near-total closure of commercial establishments, but only in cantons under an Orange Alert. Supermarkets, health services and financial services are among the exceptions that can continue to operate throughout this span.

In cantons under a Yellow Alert, most commercial establishments can continue to operate normally throughout the month, including from August 10 through August 21.

The following activities and businesses still cannot operate throughout August: Concerts, public spectacles, fairs (except farmer’s markets), sporting events, expos, conference centers, skate parks and children’s games, amusement parks, bars, nightclubs, casinos.

The mid-August “Closed” phase will allow health authorities to identify and isolate those who contracted the coronavirus in early August.

Vehicular restrictions continue

In Orange Alert areas

During the “open” phases, driving is allowed as follows from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Mondays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 1 and 2 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely.
  • Tuesdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 3 and 4 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely.
  • Wednesdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 5 and 6 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely.
  • Thursdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 7 and 8 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely.
  • Fridays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 9 and 0 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely.
  • Saturdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in even numbers cannot drive.
  • Sundays: Vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers cannot drive.

During the “closed” phase, driving is allowed as follow from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Mondays: Only vehicles with license plates ending in 1 and 2 can drive.
  • Tuesdays: Only vehicles with license plates ending in 3 and 4 can drive.
  • Wednesdays: Only vehicles with license plates ending in 5 and 6 can drive.
  • Thursdays: Only vehicles with license plates ending in 7 and 8 can drive.
  • Fridays: Only vehicles with license plates ending in 9 and 0 can drive.
  • Saturdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in even numbers can drive.
  • Sundays: Vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers can drive.

Please note that the weekend restrictions have changed on weekends during the “Closed Phase” in Orange Alert areas.

In Yellow Alert areas

During the entire month of August, driving is permitted from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends.

  • Mondays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 1 and 2 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely.
  • Tuesdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 3 and 4 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely.
  • Wednesdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 5 and 6 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely.
  • Thursdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 7 and 8 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely.
  • Fridays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 9 and 0 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely.
  • Saturdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in even numbers cannot drive.
  • Sundays: Vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers cannot drive.

Cantons in an Orange Alert

Fewer cantons are under an Orange Alert in August compared to July.

The following cantons will remain under an Orange Alert as of August 5. All others will be under a Yellow Alert and abide by the more lenient restrictions.

  • San José: Alajuelita, Aserrí, Curridabat, Desamparados (except the districts of Frailes and San Cristóbal), Escazú, Goicoechea, Montes de Oca, Moravia, San José, Santa Ana, Tibás, Vázquez de Coronado.
  • Puntarenas: Corredores, Coto Brus (districts of Agua Buena and Sabalito), Golfito (district of Pavón), Puntarenas (districts of Barranca and Chacarita).
  • Heredia: Barva, Flores, Heredia, San Isidro, San Pablo, Santo Domingo.
  • Alajuela: Alajuela (except the district of Sarapiquí), Naranjo.
  • Cartago: La Unión.
  • Guanacaste: No cantons under Orange Alerts. 
  • Limón: No cantons under Orange Alerts. 

Click here to see the full list of cantons under an Orange or Yellow Alert. (The link is to an official, Spanish-language website operated by the Costa Rican government.)

Other items of note

Some details of note in regards to the August coronavirus measures in Costa Rica:

  • Mother’s Day is celebrated August 15, which falls in the “closing phase” for Orange Alert cantons.
  • In Orange Alert areas: Beaches and lakes are open daily from 5-9:30 a.m., even during the “closing phase.” National parks can also remain open throughout the closing phase in both Yellow and Orange Alert areas. In Yellow Alert areas, beaches are open from 5 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily.
  • The International Film Festival and the National Art Festival are not permitted.
  • Church and similar religious gatherings of up to 75 people are permitted in the Yellow Alert areas, but not in the Orange Alert areas. Religious processions (e.g. the Romería) are not permitted anywhere.
  • Public transport can operate regularly in Yellow and Orange Alert areas. This includes long-distance bus routes and special transport for tourists.

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