Region, COVID-19

Five City Halls in Guanacaste approve prohibition due to COVID-19 emergency

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Carrillo’s canton was the first (Monday, March 16), then Santa Cruz (Tuesday, March 17), Liberia (Monday, March 23), and lastly, Bagaces (March 24) and Hojancha (March 24). Guanacaste’s municipal councils are banning the sale of liquor in their cantons due to the emergence of the new coronavirus. The Law of Regulation and Marketing of Alcoholic Beverages allows them to do it.

Throughout the country, there are at least four more municipalities with the same law approved: Corredores (Puntarenas), Sarapiquí and Talamanca (Limón), and Aserrí (San José). For all of them, the directive to close bars, casinos and clubs was not enough.

Health Minister, Daniel Salas, mentioned in a press conference on Sunday this is not a guideline they have recommended.

The indication of the Ministry of Health has been to suspend bar activity. It has not been prohibited that restaurants with their respective permission for liquors can sell an alcoholic beverage along with a meal

For this reason, Tilaran and Cañas will not declare Prohibition in their cantons, according to their mayors. “Neither the council nor the mayor’s office will exceed national guidelines. When a Prohibition is indicated in the national guidelines, the municipality will collaborate to complied with it,” Cañas Mayor Luis Fernando Mendoza told The Voice.

According to the agreements made by the Carrillo and Liberia municipal councils, the measure seeks to prevent crowds of people in shops. Another reason  is to avoid people getting out of their homes.

This was expressed, for example, by the Liberian councilor, Félix Zúñiga, at the municipal council session on Monday, March 23. The vote on the agreement had a negative vote from her colleague Alejandra Larios because, for her, applying the Prohibition “would affect more merchants.” In addition, she clarified that her position would be different if there is an explicit recommendation of the Ministries of Health and Security.

In fact, the guidelines of the Ministry of Health, published on its website, already contemplate the measures that supermarkets and mini-supermarkets must take to avoid crowds: it is recommended that only one person enters the establishment at a time, with the exception of those who need an accompanying person, and to follow the rules for distance in corridors, rows of collection boxes and parking lots of at least 1.8 meters between each person.

The Costa Rican Chamber of Commerce (CCC) said that the dry law in the cantons is “one more impact on trade.”

We understand that Easter is coming, we respect everyone if they are in favor or against applying the Prohibition in that moment, but from now until Easter they attempt against the economic reactivation that we need at this moment,” the president of CCC Julio Castilla Peláez told La Nación.

The municipal council of Abangares approved the Prohibition only for Easter. Nandayure approved it only for Holy Thursday and Good Friday (April 9th and 10th). 

Nicoya and La Cruz have not considered or discussed whether to apply it or not.