Costa Rica will permit bars and certain casinos to reopen during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Economy Ministry (MEIC) and Tourism Board (ICT) announced Monday.
Both types of establishments will have to adhere to health protocols in order to reduce the risk of contagion.
Bars, for example, will be required to play music at a decibel level that permits patrons to converse at a normal volume. Guests won’t be permitted to dance, and establishments will install acrylic barriers at the bar and some tables.
Costa Rica has approximately 4,500 bars, representing thousands of people who may be able to return to work, said Economy Minister Victoria Hernández.
“We have applied criteria that are a little more restrictive than the forms that restaurants can operate,” Hernández said. “We are finalizing these details with the Health Ministry.”
Tourism Minister Gustavo Segura said casinos located in hotels will be allowed to reopen. Guests must pass a temperature screening, machines and chips will be sanitized frequently, and alcoholic beverages will not be permitted.
Approved bars and casinos can reopen starting Thursday, October 8. For both types of establishments, capacity will be limited to 50%.
Like other establishments, bars and casinos must close at 10 p.m. on weekdays and 8 p.m. on weekends, in line with Costa Rica’s national driving restrictions.
“We have all been looking forward to the reopening of the economic activities, the continuity of business, the regeneration of jobs,” Hernández said.
The news comes as Costa Rica continues being impacted by the coronavirus. As of Monday, the country had reported 987 COVID-19 related deaths and more than 81,000 cumulative cases.
Due to the pandemic, Costa Rica’s bars and casinos have been closed since mid-March, though more recently bars could reopen as restaurants.
This story was updated Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. as the Tourism Board clarified that the reopening can occur on Thursday, October 8, rather than on October 9 as was initially announced.