COVID-19 in Costa Rica, Week 7 Update

May 12, 2023 in Life in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is present in the minds of potential tourists from all around the world. In these weeks of sanitary confinement, our Costa Rican paradise stands out as being on top of the wish-list for all its natural attractions and biodiversity, the fullness that is experienced when feeling the experience of being in a rainforest, the incomparable beauty of the coasts, the exquisite coffee quality, amazing fauna, healthy local gastronomy with a variety of fruits and vegetables. And, above all, the warmth of the 'Ticos'. “Costa Rica has earned with decades of work a highly respected place in the world as a tourist destination that we must take care of while we plan how to reactivate our tourism sector to get it out of this unprecedented crisis,” explained María Amalia Revelo, Minister of Tourism. The minister added that the tourism public relations and advertising teams have developed strategic actions to maintain a connection with the main issuing markets. These efforts include sharing videos about Costa Rica and articles promoting local gastronomy, well-being, and activities to do with the family during confinement.

President’s Recent Nationwide Address

Costa Rica’s President Carlos Alvarado admitted in a nationwide address this week that the measures to contain the COVID-19 contagion have had “very severe” impacts in terms of unemployment and loss of family income. However, he highlighted Costa Rica’s success in reducing the spread of the coronavirus as positive in comparison to most other countries. President Alvarado called for unity in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, even as he acknowledged Costa Rica will endure a difficult economic recovery. “A lethal enemy is causing pain and destruction across the world,” President Alvarado said. “I say it frankly, which you deserve: We will face many difficult months to come.” 

Tough Economic Times

“Costa Rica has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in a report on the country. This is evident in the projected 3.6% drop in GDP as opposed to the 2.5% growth originally anticipated. “The results that were being generated before the pandemic showed that we were progressing well,” President Alvarado said. Instead, tourism revenues, which account for 6% of GDP, have collapsed due to the closure of borders, while other exports have declined due to a drop in demand from their trading partners. “The COVID-19 pandemic puts our health and way of life at risk,” President Alvarado said Monday. “It has caused unemployment and loss of income. It has damaged production and the economy. Let’s not deceive ourselves: We are facing the greatest challenge of our generation.”

International Aid For Costa Rica

The IMF board last week approved $504 million in emergency financing for Costa Rica to help deal with the economic damage inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic. The funding will “support essential COVID-19-related health spending and relief measures targeted to the most affected sectors and vulnerable populations.” The IMF noted the government has eased spending controls, announced moratorium on tax payments and approved a package of measures to mitigate the impact of the lockdowns. “The resources will allow the government to finance the attention to the health and economic crisis under very favorable rate and term conditions,” said the president of the Central Bank of Costa Rica, Rodrigo Cubero, in a government statement.

Easing Coronavirus Restrictions

Costa Rica began easing some coronavirus measures on May 1st in an effort to gradually reactivate the country’s economy without provoking a health crisis. Theaters, cinemas, gyms and athletic centers, which had been closed since mid-March, are now permitted to operate under strict sanitary guidelines. Gyms can now operate during the week at 25% of their rated capacity. They must also offer reservations and special hours for at-risk populations. Likewise, movie theaters can open during the week so long as they guarantee two meters (6.5 feet) of separation between guests and implement electronic ticketing. The priority is that collaborators are safe, working in a suitable and clean environment. In addition to the gym- and cinema-specific guidelines, the Health Ministry says all open businesses must adhere to a list of general directives that include revamping cleaning standards and guaranteeing social distancing. Restaurants must keep to a maximum of 50% of their capacity. Businesses must ensure that bathrooms are properly equipped with soap dispensers, paper towels or air dryer, toilet paper and trash cans that open with the use of a foot pedal. Hand sanitizer must be made available especially in the cashier area and at the entrance for clients to use when they come in and out. Signs must be visible reminding clients to disinfect their hands. Barber shops, beauty salons and aesthetic centers must increase all sanitary measures, disinfecting all equipment, tools and surfaces that clients touch with more frequency than usual. If Costa Rica continues its relative success in controlling spread of the coronavirus, more businesses will be given the go-ahead to work toward their own reopening, according to the government. Costa Rica’s population of 5 million registered 742 cumulative cases of SARS-CoV-2 through May 5th, including 399 recovered and six dead. These numbers are relatively very low and Costa Ricans want to keep it that way. This is a country that is prepared for testing, emergency care, and to inherently accept the measures needed to keep everyone safe.

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