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Cantons under an Orange Alert in Costa Rica [August 12]

August 11, 2020

The National Emergency Commission (CNE) has changed the coronavirus alert level for several cantons.

The header photo in this story shows every Costa Rican canton in an Orange Alert as of August 12, 2020. Click here for an interactive map of Costa Rica showing the alert level in all locations.

The most recent changes, effective Tuesday, placed Moravia (San José province), Vásquez de Coronado (San José) and Barva (Heredia) under a Yellow Alert. Belén (Heredia), Puriscal (San José) and Parrita (Puntarenas) are now under an Orange Alert.

The alerts are indefinite, though the CNE typically announces changes once per week.

Costa Rica remains in its Closed Phase

In order to better identify and control coronavirus outbreaks, Costa Rica entered a “Closed Phase” on Monday. This will last through Friday, August 21.

Here’s what’s open (and what isn’t) in Costa Rica during the Closed Phase.

For regions under a Yellow Alert

The Closed Phase does not impact driving or businesses in Yellow Alert areas.

During the entire month of August, most commercial businesses can operate normally (with capacity restrictions). Beaches are open daily from 5 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and all open-air tourism activities are permitted.

In addition, driving is permitted from 5 a.m. to 9 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.

For regions under an Orange Alert

The Closed Phase most significantly affects driving in Orange Alert areas. Driving is permitted as follows from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends:

  • 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.
  • Saturday, Aug. 15 (Mother’s Day): Vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers can drive.
  • Sunday, Aug. 16: Vehicles with license plates ending in even numbers can drive.

Rental cars, taxis and buses are among the exceptions to the restrictions. Workers can also drive to their jobs (with proper accreditation). A hotel reservation also counts as a valid exception.

While the driving restrictions are meant to limit mobility between Orange and Yellow Alert areas, the plate rules don’t apply on several major throughways.

Commercial businesses can remain open during the week. This includes all essential services (groceries, pharmacies, health centers, delivery, food pickup, financial institutions) plus:

  • Supermarkets can sell all products in their inventory. (Previously, they were restricted to selling only essential items during the Closed Phase.)
  • Restaurants, sodas, coffee shops and food courts can open. Businesses with a bar and restaurant license will only be allowed to operate the restaurant area.
  • Stores in general can open, as well as department stores.
  • Barber shops and beauty salons can open. Prior appointments are required.

Only essential businesses can remain open on the weekend. This includes supermarkets (selling essential items), pharmacies, hotels and farmer’s markets.

National parks and beaches (5-9:30 a.m.) remain open to the public.

Border restrictions unchanged

The Closed Phase does not impact Costa Rica’s ongoing border restrictions.

Currently, the country is welcoming tourists from select countries (Canada, the European Union and the United Kingdom) who meet a series of entry requirements.

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