The following information is a summary of the measures taken by the Costa Rican government, in order to face of the COVID-19 pandemic:
March 11, 2020: Health Alert Declaration. Suspension of mass concentration activities. E.g. concerts, public shows, fairgrounds, etc.
March 12, 2020: Directive instructs decentralized State entities to attend, as ordered by the Ministry of Health, the latter’s orders regarding what is needed to combat the pandemic. Additionally, it instructs to apply, in positions where possible, Telecommuting, inviting the private sector to do the same.
March 16, 2020: Declaration of a State of National Emergency throughout Costa Rican territory. The role of State entities in charge of intervening in the emergency and the phases to take place on how to face it are determined.
Social Security (CCSS) approves the inclusion of incapacity for work due to a health alert as a result of COVID-19, so that insured people that may suffer from the disease can be incapacitated in those cases that are found to be in an investigative or possible condition. Additionally, it clarifies the conditions and requirements to qualify for that incapacitation.
March 17, 2020: The “Fiscal Relief in light of COVID-19” decree was approved to face the lack of liquidity due to the drop in demand; that is, the consumption of goods and services. Three measures were established:
- Moratorium on the payment of taxes: VAT, selective consumption tax, and tariffs, from April to June 2020, may be paid until December 2020 without interest charges or fines. Taxes must be declared and paid; this means there is no amnesty or debt forgiveness, only a deferment of tax payment is granted (interest-free financing).
- Non-payment of rent advance: it won’t be required to pay the rent advance corresponding to the months of April to June 2020.
- VAT exemption on commercial rentals: the lessor can invoice the lessee without VAT from April to June 2020.
March 18, 2020: Sanitary measures are taken at the migratory level. The entry of foreign tourists to the national territory is temporarily restricted. People who are processing or have regular migratory stay in the country under the migratory categories of permanent residence, temporary residence, special category or non-resident, provided that their migratory category is in force at the time of their entry to the country, are exempt. Additionally, it contemplates other exceptions. E.g. diplomatic missions, air transport crews, etc. Upon entering the country, health authorities will order the isolation of those who enter for a period of 14 calendar days.
March 23, 2020: By legislative decree, the temporary reduction of the agreed working hours between employer and employee was authorized when the gross income of companies is affected by reason of a National Emergency Declaration. The requirements for said reduction and the required process were established, and must be approved by the Labor Inspectorate of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.
The Government announced the total closure of beaches throughout the country, the obligatory closure of temples and religious services, and a sanitary vehicle restriction of 10 p.m. at 5 a.m. (with certain exceptions). In addition, as of March 24, 2020, all foreigners residing or with regular status in the country who leave Costa Rican territory, will automatically lose their immigration status. However, there is no official decree where this is established, and was stated by the President of the Republic at a press conference.
March 24, 2020: By press release, the government announced the permanence of a maximum of 20% of officials in public institutions, and the abstention to increase wages. 48 hours were given to institutions to present their plan to maintain basic service.
March 24, 2020: Executive Decree suspends Central Government salary increase.
Note: the purpose of this publication is to provide general information on the new regulations that govern companies in Costa Rica and is intended to be legal advice as such. Should you require more specific information regarding these issues, please do not hesitate to contact any of our attorneys.