SAN JOSE (Reuters) - The Costa Rican government will begin an economic reopening on Saturday in a bid to reverse a sharp coronavirus-induced slowdown, the president said on Wednesday, even though the official tally shows the COVID-19 caseload continuing to rise.
President Carlos Alvarado offered a plan for a staggered reopening of the Central American country’s economy, which has been battered by the global pandemic since March.
The government will allow businesses and restaurants to reopen during the first nine days of August, but will then pause the effort for the following 12 days and resume restrictions, according to Alvarado’s plan, who added that the cycle was expected to be repeated.
“We’re looking for the appropriate balance to keep protecting the health and at the same time resume productive activities that have been closed,” he said.
“We are giving a certain time line so that companies can plan ahead.”
Some 16,800 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the country to date, along with at least 133 deaths attributable to the highly contagious COVID-19 respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
While more than three quarters of the cases and nearly 90% of the deaths have been reported in July, Alvarado said a balance must be struck with the health of the country’s economy, which is seen contracting by 5.5%, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Cepal).
Tourist hotels have already been opened, and local airports from Saturday will begin receiving foreign travelers from Europe and Canada, but not yet from the United States.
The government’s reopening plan still bans large gatherings, bars and nightclubs.
Costa Rica’s land borders with Nicaragua and Panama are still closed and schools remain suspended.
Reporting by Alvaro Murillo; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Peter Cooney
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