"The current ban on driving rule should be canceled immediately, " the Ombudsman Office said
- Ministry of Transport photo -

Published on Tuesday, July 20, 2021

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ombudsman Office requested the Ministry of Health for a report on the technical studies that justify the decision to continue with the ban on driving rules.

In Costa Rica, the ombudsman service has the role of handling citizens' complaints against government actions. Since the pandemic forced the country into strict lockdown and extreme safety measures, people have complained.

The more than year-long driving restrictions have people questioning the science and correlation behind the strict driving measures that have been in place since March 2020 and a massive contagion in the population, the organization said in its statement.

The Ombudsman' requested the technical criteria of the Ministry of Health on the indication given by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding the importance of not promoting the use of public transportation (or car healing) in which the " non-agglomeration of passengers using such services is not guaranteed."

At the international level, it has been pointed out that restrictions on transport mobility must be taken and analyzed with care and attention, in order not to generate major effects on the population in the economic, labor and social aspects.

According to the people defenders organization, the government authorities should carry out an analysis based on science and the effectiveness of the current ban on driving, in order to make it correspond to existing international guidelines.

"The current ban on driving rule should be canceled immediately and established according to international standards such as the education on the need for constant hand washing, the use of the face mask and social distancing,Ē Catalina Crespo, head of the Ombudsman's Office said.

The organization established five days for the authorities of the Ministry of Health to provide the requested analysis to justify the ban on driving rule.

Currently, the driving restrictions continues for the rest of the week. Implemented in 2020, these regulations continue to serve as a measure to try to decrease covid-19 infections,  according to the National Emergency Commission.

However, virus-infected patients continue to spread in Costa Rica. According to the Ministry of Health statistics, as of Monday, there are 70,585 active covid-19 infected people in the country. Of the total 392,781 cases detected since last year, there were 4,906 deaths listed as covid-19 related, approximately 1.3% death rate in Costa Rica.

Following the driving restrictions, some vehicles can be on the roads from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. as long as their plate number isnít banned for the day.

After 9 p.m. there should be no vehicle on the streets, except those traveling to authorized places such as the airport, a clinic, work or a hotel, among others. The list of exceptions that allow any vehicle to drive at night is on the government website under Vehicle Exceptions.

The restrictions apply as follows:

On Tuesday, July 20, plates ending in 3 or 4 are banned.
On Wednesday, July 21, plates ending in 5 and 6 are banned.
On Thursday, July 22, plates ending in 7 or 8 are banned.
On Friday, July 23, plates ending in 9 or 0 are banned.
On Saturday, July 24, plates ending in an odd number (1, 3, 5, 7 or 9) are banned.
On Sunday, July 25, plates ending in an even number (0, 2, 4, 6 or 8) are banned.

Drivers caught disregarding the driving restrictions must pay a fine of about $180. Traffic officers cannot seize the vehicle or its plates. They also cannot reduce driver's license points for breaking the rule.

Different rules apply to parents who are transporting their children to and from school. They must have  a letter issued by the school principal indicating an in-person schedule for the student, the school-issued student identification ID and the bill of proof of school or high school enrollment issued by the principal. Parents should carry the documents with them while transporting kids to school in case traffic police request it.

A practical solution to avoid driving is to request a ride-hailing service or use public transportation. In the case of people who depend on driving, they should print and keep the ban-on-driving schedule displayed with them at all times.

Readers can verify the car plate number restrictions by visiting the government website Vehicle Alert.

Should the authorities lift the ban on the driving rule? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to news@amcostarica.com


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