Costa Rican authorities have begun implementing temporary vehicle restrictions nationwide until Sunday, April 12, as the country expects increased land travel during Holy Week amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Vehicles will be allowed on the road based on the last number of the license plate number, only to go to the pharmacy and grocery stores. The schedule runs as follows:
- Wednesday, April 8: License plates ending in 0 and 1
- Thursday, April 9: License plates ending in 2 and 3
- Friday, April 10: License plates ending in 4 and 5
- Saturday, April 11: License plates ending in 6 and 7
- Sunday; April 12: License plates ending in 8 and 9
Public transportation, with the exception of taxis, will be suspended through April 12. Some long-distance bus routes will operate on a reduced schedule.
Previously, a vehicular traffic ban was implemented on Friday, March 27, barring vehicular traffic from Monday through Friday between 22:00 and 05:00 (local time). On Saturday and Sunday, the curfew was between 20:00 and 05:00. It is unclear whether these measures will be implemented again on Tuesday, April 14, following the Holy Week restrictions.
Flight connections to and from Europe via Costa Rica are suspended as of Monday, March 30. Borders have been closed to foreign nationals since Thursday, March 19, and will remain as such until at least Sunday, April 12. Exceptions will be made for medical reasons, diplomatic staff, and for food supply.
On Sunday, March 15, Costa Rican authorities closed bars nationwide. Restaurants and food courts may remain open, though may only seat 50 percent of their defined capacity. All university classes have been suspended as of Thursday, Mach 12. Costa Ricans were also called upon to avoid nonessential travel. All beaches are closed, and all religious services have been suspended.
As of Thursday, April 9, there are 502 confirmed COVID-19 cases including three associated deaths and 29 recoveries. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.