Many developed cities in the world are again allowing businesses such as restaurants, bars, and the like to use public spaces to extend their business outside of a physical location and thus offer their customers an outdoor place, where they can interact and share moments in innovative places.
A proposal aims for Costa Rica to catch up with these localities and allow businesses to use sidewalks, boulevards, parks and squares for their commercial activities, as long as public spaces are respected.
Offering businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic an alternative to reactivate their economy and have ventilated and open-air spaces, to reduce contagion by this virus, is the objective of this initiative launched in September 2020 by a group of deputies.
Pablo Heriberto Abarca, Roberto Thompson and Paola Vega, with the collaboration of the urban planner and founder of RutasNaturbanas, Federico Cartín, were the architects of this proposal that had to wait more than 15 months to receive the endorsement of the Legislative Assembly.
Consistent with the sanitary measures
And it is that, for Roberto Thompson, this project is an experience that has been used for many years by developed cities around the world.“This is an experience that has been very successful in many other countries, it is an experience that has been shown to have increased the number of people, which is very consistent with the sanitary measures that have been required with distancing and ventilation; which has also achieved an important economic reactivation”, said Thompson.
In addition, he pointed out that the initiative should not even require a bill, and that for many years the municipalities should have made progress on the issue of granting these permits to businesses.
Never too late
With a similar position, legislator Pablo Heriberto Abarca assured that Costa Rica should not have waited for a pandemic to occur in order to regulate activities of this type.“I celebrate that an initiative has been unanimously approved in the second debate that is an opportunity for municipalities and merchants to expand the activities and use of public spaces and that we can take advantage of our climate and our beauties to have an open-air business, free and well-regulated,” said Abarca.
Likewise, he called on other important sectors of the country to strengthen a proposal that comes to boost the commercial activity of many businesses that are beginning to recover and rehire staff.
Federico Cartín explained that the project has a series of important restrictions to make adequate use of public spaces, and that now it will be the municipalities who must work to create regulations with clear rules related to this issue.
A huge opportunity
“This is a huge opportunity for economic reactivation, for generating citizen security from the activation of public space and also an important accompaniment for restaurants and businesses, for people who do not want to eat inside and want to ensure that there are ventilated spaces”,Cartin said.
This proposal does not create any right of possession of the owners of the businesses on the roads or public spaces, on the contrary, what it contemplates is a permit in special conditions that the municipalities must regulate.
For this reason, Local Governments will have a period of six months, after this law comes into force, to create the regulations that regulate the use of these spaces and the activities permitted under the new legislation.
Outdoor Trade Law Regulations to the extension of the commercial activity of businesses in public spaces:
- The development of permanent infrastructure in public spaces is not allowed
- The total closure of roads and public spaces is prohibited
- It will not be possible to limit the freedom of transit and accessibility of people
- The hours authorized by the commercial patent must be respected
- Businesses must use light furniture that will be removed from the public space at the end of business hours.