• Costa Rica Coffee Guide

Four cantons will enforce dry law during Holy Week

March 26, 2021

As of Friday evening, just four of Costa Rica’s 82 municipalities have confirmed that they will prohibit the sale of alcohol during Holy Week, the National Union of Local Governments (UNGL) says.

The restriction in most cases will apply only on Holy Thursday (April 1) and Good Friday (April 2).

This is the list of cantons that have officially confirmed that they will enforce a dry law, per El Guardián:

In San José: Alajuelita (all of Holy Thursday and Good Friday).

In Cartago: Cartago center (all of Good Friday); Turrialba (all of Holy Thursday and Good Friday); and Alvarado (from Holy Wednesday at midnight until Easter Saturday at noon).

Sixty-two municipalities have confirmed they will not impose a dry law, while 16 have not yet announced their plans.

Business owners who disobey municipal restrictions can face fines of up to 10 base salaries.

Dry law

The enforcement of a “dry law” during national holidays used to be mandatory across the country. However, amendments to the country’s Liquor Law in 2012 granted each municipality the power to decide whether or not to enforce the ban.

The change in the law prompted a legal complaint from the National Tourism Chamber and the Costa Rican Chamber of Hotels who claimed that leaving the bans up to municipalities causes unfair differences, and that the continuation of the bans in any form is damaging to business. Chamber leaders pointed out that many bars, restaurants, hotels and other businesses in major tourist destinations were forced to close during those days, some of the year’s busiest for them.

They also said leaving the decision in the hands of municipal leaders means that some businesses suffer these economic losses while others, located in adjacent communities that do not enforce the ban, reap the benefits.

An Administrative Court ruled in favor of the chambers in 2016, but kept the Holy Week section of the law on the books. Judges at the time said the ban during those days is part of a separate law requiring businesses to close during Holy Thursday and Good Friday.

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