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Costa Rica’s closed phase continues this week. Here’s what’s open

August 17, 2020

The “Closed Phase” continues this week, affecting driving and businesses in Orange Alert areas.

These restrictions last through Friday, August 21, after which Costa Rica will ease restrictions in an “Open Phase” from August 22-30.

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.
  • Saturdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers can drive.
  • Sundays: 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, as do doctor appointments.

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.

Many businesses may be closed on Monday, August 17 as Costa Rica observes Mother’s Day.

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

Cantons in an Orange Alert

The following cantons remain under an Orange Alert. All others are 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, Puriscal, San José, Santa Ana, Tibás.
  • Puntarenas: Corredores (districts of Canoas, La Cuesta and Laurel), Parrita.
  • Heredia: Belén, Flores, Heredia (district of Heredia, Mercedes, San Francisco and Ulloa), 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 for an interactive map of Costa Rica showing the alert level in all locations.

Border restrictions remain 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, among others) who meet a series of entry requirements.

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