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News briefs: Costa Rica to obligate wearing masks; face shields no longer sufficient

August 29, 2020

The coronavirus crisis has transformed life in Costa Rica, which has enacted measures to protect the capacity of its health system.

Here’s what you should know today.

Requirements for mask use changing

Starting September 9, using only a face shield will no longer be sufficient in situations where mouth and nose coverings are required, the Health Ministry announced.

As of that date, face shields can continue to be worn — but only if the wearer has a mask on underneath. September 9 marks the beginning of Costa Rica’s September “Open Phase.”

“Taking into account that as of September 9, we will have a greater phase of opening, the guidelines will be changed and masks will be mandatory in indoor spaces for public service,” said Health Minister Daniel Salas.

Costa Rica already obligates that the general public wear face masks or shields in nearly all indoor situations. Exceptions include while eating at restaurants, in private dwellings, for infants and for people with certain disabilities.

Masks reinforce existing physical-distancing practices; wearers should still respect their social bubble and wash their hands frequently.

Masks can be either surgical or homemade, so long as they cover the nose and mouth. Respirators, such as N95 masks, are also accepted. (Click here for guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control detailing how to make a homemade mask.)

Disposable masks should be discarded in covered bins. Users should wash their hands before putting on a mask and after removing it.

“Evidence indicates the use of suitable masks can help in the prevention of transmission of respiratory viruses from a symptomatic person to a healthy person and also reduces contamination of surfaces by saliva droplets,” the current Health Ministry guidelines read.

The CDC and other health bodies also say face shields may not be suitable alternatives for masks.

At commercial establishments, the business-owner is responsible for enforcing mask usage. Penalties for not enforcing Health Measures can include the suspension of sanitary permits.

Sunday press conferences suspended

The Health Ministry is suspending its Sunday coronavirus press conferences, it announced.

“Given the need to give the Health Surveillance work teams a short break after six months of continuous work, the Health and Communication Ministries report that starting this week the COVID-19 press conferences will be held from Monday to Saturday,” a statement read.

The Monday press conferences will detail the data corresponding to Sunday and Monday.

Have a great weekend!

If you’ve gotten this far: Thank you for reading The Tico Times. We hope you have a great weekend!

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