Community, COVID-19, Santa Cruz

Residents of Tamarindo marched to demand the full opening of the beach and reactivate commercial activity in the area

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Translator: Ruben Acevedo Rodríguez

Residents from several coastal areas of the country, including Tamarindo, demanded the total opening of the beaches to boost the economy of their communities under the slogan “Playas Abiertas con Responsabilidad”. “We are in a bad economic situation,” said the resident of Tamarindo, Mitzam Fontiveros, who was part of the initiative.

According to Fontiveros, the event brought together about 100 people at 11am this Wednesday in the Tamarindo roundabout. The community walked approximately one kilometer to the estuary area.

Fontiveros said this march had the objective of calling on the authorities of the Ministry of Health to rethink the current opening hours of the beaches, and to demand an economic rescue plan specifically for the coastal areas.

The beaches are open on weekdays from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m.only for sports, but not for recreational purposes. At the same time, some national parks that have beaches, such as the Ostional Wildlife Refuge, are operating with a 50% capacity.

This schedule does not work for us, so tourism is not reactivated since no one comes to buy at this time,” added Fontiveros.

Communities in Playas del Coco, Jacó, Puerto Viejo in Limón, Pavones and Santa Teresa joined the march according to a statement issued by the organizers.

In several videos posted on social media by the participants of the march and shared with La Voz de Guanacaste, most participants wore masks, carried posters and distanced themselves from each other.

Police officers were also present during the walk and arrested one of the participants.

The movement, according to Fontiveros, is not considering any more ralliesat the moment and is waiting for a response from the Government authorities to decide whether to take further action.

More than 70% of the shops in Tamarindo are closed, according to the community.

And the Healthcare protocols?

The total opening of the beaches must be accompanied by a protocol that “Healthcare workers should work,” according to Fontiveros.

He added that for such a fully open protocol, authorities should approach communities through development associations. According to her, there are already certain ideas for carrying this out.

There is no external tourism, nor population that stays there, it is very difficult for the beaches to be completely full. We are thinking about paying lifeguards on the beach to monitor social distancing, or working with education campaigns, for example,” he said.

The Guanacaste Chamber of Tourism (Caturgua), reacted to the rally with a press release, explaining that the institution has met with travel industry executives and government authorities to develop strategies and protocols to reactivate the sector.

Most recently, according to Caturgua, the meeting that led to a series of agreements,was held on June 23rd. The meeting was attended by Minister of Health Daniel Salas and the President of Canatur, Ruben Acon.

The agreement was that “phase 3 of the economic reactivation will begin this weekend and any change or important event will be communicated in advance,” the press release indicated.

This week, the government intended to enter into phase 3 of the opening, but it was delayed due to an increase in the number of infections nationwide.

At that level of opening, access to the beaches would be from Monday to Sunday from 5:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

“¢25,000 in the entire month”

Marcelo Matos owns a surf shop in the area. According to him, he is one of the few who still has a business open in Tamarindo.

During the pandemic, the income of the shop fell to the point of earning ¢25,000 colones for the whole month.

I was not aware of the rally, but I can tell you that we are having a very bad time. Luckily, I had some money saved up and that is what I am supporting myself with now,” he said.

He added that the owners of the place he rented lowered his rent and that he was only able to keep his full staff during the first two months of the pandemic. In addition, his night-timeas a DJ had to stop completely.

“I have a friend who used to make a living as a DJ and now is making chimichurri. The situation is horrible,” added the owner.