Costa Rican Towns Can Reopen Parks by Having a Prevention Plan for COVID-19

The possibility of reopening public parks is viewed with caution in Pococí, Monteverde, and Talamanca, given the fear that the advancement of that decision will lead to outbreaks of the Novel Coronavirus.

Along with Abangares, Carrillo, and Guácimo, these localities are the only ones in the country that meet the requirements for the reopening of public spaces, insofar as they have a Cantonal Risk Index (CRI) of less than two – and therefore remain under yellow alert and have a prevention plan for COVID-19.

Pococí

The coordinator of the Pococí Municipal Emergency Committee, Maikol Fernández, explained that this inter-institutional group is evaluating the opening conditions of the four parks managed by the city council.

“Although it is true, having the plan approved, and having the index in several cases that allows us to enable the areas, we are still evaluating because it is not just about opening, but doing it right. If we open inadequately that can quickly generate infections again, thus becoming counterproductive,” said Fernández.

“In public areas it is very difficult for any canton to have 24/7 staff, verifying that people take care of their distancing, that people do not leave their social bubbles … that is the assessment we are making,” added the coordinator of the Pococí Municipal Emergency Department.

Talamanca and Monteverde

“There are some indicators that are still being put in place allowing us to concretize the reopening of the eight parks. Right now we have been analyzing possibilities, situations that frame the plan to be able to operationalize that in particular. So for the moment, we are pinpointing the final aspects of the plan to define if we are going to start the opening of parks and public spaces,” said the mayor of Talamanca, Rugeli Morales. “In that (sanitary protocols and schedules) we are precisely focused. In those parameters to determine those processes,” he added.

Monteverde

For his part, the mayor of Monteverde, Yeudy Ramírez, told that the reopening of the four “mini-parks” in the district will be discussed in the Municipal Emergency Committee next week, although he did not specify a date.

“We are very cautious in this regard. I think that what has been prioritized and worked on is that we are effectively complying with all the consultations and procedures that the National Commission is indicating to us, rather than with the race to open X or Y area. It’s having a responsible opening. And more or less that’s how we’ve been doing it,” said Ramírez.

None of the authorities consulted dared to give a date for the reopening of parks, insofar as they require clarity from the Ministry of Health on the health provisions that must be implemented, such as the adaptation of spaces to comply with social distancing or regular disinfection, or the hours in which the visit to the parks will be allowed.

These public recreation sites represent a complex scenario for the supervision of compliance with protocols, in the same way, that they have contact surfaces (such as benches, handrails, among others) without the possibility of someone performing constant sanitization of these objects.

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