Costa Rica to close non-essential businesses next week over COVID-19

FILE PHOTO: An employee cleans a restaurant chair in a hotel, as Costa Rica tourism industry braces for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Heredia, Costa Rica March 18, 2020. Picture taken March 18,2020. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate

SAN JOSE (Reuters) – Costa Rica will for the next week close non-essential businesses, including restaurants and bars, across the center of the country due to a sharp increase in new cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations, the government said on Thursday.

From May 3-9, restaurants, bars, department stores, beauty salons, gyms and churches must close in 45 municipalities in central Costa Rica, where almost half the population lives and over two-thirds of new cases have been registered.

“We are in an unprecedented situation, and many people are going to die,” Health Minister Daniel Salas said after announcing 2,781 new daily infections, a record number. “There are already waiting lists to enter intensive care.”

The government will also impose travel restrictions during the week.

Costa Rica has so far reported almost 249,000 cases of COVID-19 and some 3,200 fatalities.

Some 10.5% of the population had been vaccinated as of Thursday, most of them over the age of 58, official data show.

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