Costa Rica: Migratory restrictions, Ministry’s of Health Condominium Guidelines and More

Arias created an interdisciplinary task force with the participation of different practice areas, that is monitoring and informing about measures taken by the Government to mitigate the impact of COVID 19.

The Government of Costa Rica announced measures to mitigate the effects of COVID-19. Please find below the detail of the actions taken so far:

1. Migratory Restrictions

• As of tomorrow, all foreigners residing or with regular status in the country who leave the national territory, will automatically lose their immigration status. The restriction applies to permanent and temporary residents, estancia visas, and special categories, as well as to foreigners with pending applications before Immigration Authorities.

• The date on which the restriction will be lifted remains to be defined.

2. Health Ministry’s condominium guidelines

On March 20th, 2020, the Ministry of Health issued the General Guidelines for Commercial Condominiums, condominiums with commercial and residential spaces, and Residential Condominiums due to the health alert for Coronavirus (COVID-19). The application of these measures is mandatory throughout the country, and the Ministry of Health will review them periodically.

The guidelines are divided into three groups:

Group I: General guidelines for managers, maintenance personnel, condominium owners, tenants, merchants and visitors to the condominium, which contain two rules:

- Commercial and social events scheduled for the months indicated in Decree 42227 must be cancelled.

- In the case of the residential area and the use of the amenities in general (Club House, Rooftops, Swimming Pool, Jacuzzi, Gyms, Multipurpose Courts, BBQ Ranch, Movie Rooms, Massage Room, Event Room, etc.) are suspended from regular use until further notice as of March 17th, 2020.

Group II: Guidelines for the Administration of the Condominium

- Establish a communication channel with the tenants or condominium owners, in case any of them present any symptoms related to respiratory disease or have been close to a suspicious contact, to coordinate with the corresponding health instances and communicate with line 1322.

- Monitor compliance with not using common areas such as clubhouse, rooftops, swimming pool, Jacuzzi, gyms, multipurpose courts, BBQ ranch, movie theaters, massage room, event room, etc.

- Inform through the different media available (WhatsApp groups, bulletins, information boards, etc.) of the guidelines and communiqués issued by the Ministry of Health, and all relevant information issued daily by the Ministry of Health in its press releases, as well as at the electronic address: https://www.ministeriodesalud....index.php/centro-de-prensa/noticias/741- noticias-2020/1532-lineamientos-nacionales-para-la-vigilancia-de-la-infeccion-por- coronavirus-2019-ncov

- Communicate which services will continue to be provided by the operating and maintenance personnel of the condominium, it is important that these people who will continue to carry out their normal duties apply the protocols of social distancing.

- Cancel until further notice the regular meetings, Board of Directors meetings and Condominium owners’ meetings in the cases that apply.

- The management shall, as far as possible, attend to suppliers, tenants and customers by telephone, e-mail and video call.

- Restrict as much as possible the number of people using the elevator (according to the size of the elevator and considering a distance of 1.8 meters between people).

- Restrict visits by third parties to the condominium or residential area, as a preventive and contingency measure.

- Cleaning and hygiene measures should be intensified, especially on those surfaces that are frequently touched, such as: handles, reception furniture, elevator buttons, doorknobs.

- Ensure that administrative, maintenance and security personnel have protective supplies such as: soap and water, mask, gloves, alcohol gel, disinfectant, disposable towels, etc.

- Place protocols for sneezing and coughing, hand washing, other forms of greeting, not touching the face and populations at risk in visible spaces.

- Guarantee access to toilet paper, antibacterial soap, disposable towels for drying hands and alcohol gel in public bathrooms that are properly disinfected.

Group III: Guidelines for condominium owners and tenants:

- In the event that yourself present symptoms associated with respiratory disease or a family member within the condominium or residence, communicate with the administration by the established way.

- In the event that any person has a Health Order issued by the Ministry of Health, they must follow the following Guidelines: Version 1- March 18, 2020. General guidelines for the isolation of Costa Ricans, residents and diplomats entering the country due to the health alert for Coronavirus (COVID-19).

- For those who have the AirBnB business modality, it is recommended to avoid as much as possible the rent for the health alert on COVID-19.

- Maintain protocols for hand washing, sneezing and coughing, do not touch your face as a preventive and containment measure.

- Abide by the social distancing measures promoted by the Ministry of Health, such as staying inside their homes and avoiding physical contact.

- Abide by the administration's provisions on the use of common areas and the cancellation of social activities and events.

- Stay informed about the national situation through official sources https://www.ministeriodesalud....

In case you require further information or assistance with this issue, you can contact our Real Estate Department at: rosa.jimenez@ariaslaw.com

3. Functional closure of the Judicial Branch in attention to the national emergency caused by COVID-19: Suspension of deadlines and teleworking of judicial servers

On March 20, the Full Supreme Court determined the functional closure of the Judicial Branch in attention to the national emergency caused by the COVID-19 virus, remaining the essential services as the only available until April 3rd; however, the Judiciary had already determined the closure of its offices during Easter for religious celebrations, so if the current emergency situation does not worsen, the Judiciary will return to regular operations until April 13.

What are the implications of functional closure?

Firstly, the attendance of all judicial officials to the different facilities of the Judicial Power throughout the country is suspended; however, judicial servants whose work is necessary to provide essential services are excluded from this determination.

The Court determined that judicial servants who can carry out their work remotely will remain available and work regularly through telecommuting. To the public officials, who cannot carry out telework, the days the offices are closed will be discounted as early vacations for them, since they will not be available or working during those days.

The headquarters of the Forensic Medicine, Prosecutors and Public Defense must be internally organized so that there are people on call and all the servers are reachable.

The monitoring and surveillance work of the Judicial Investigation Agency was suspended. Other measures will be adjusted and taken at the discretion of the director of the entity.

The Magistrates of the four chambers of the Supreme Court will continue working regularly, either remotely or in person, as each deems appropriate.

What happens with the prescription and expiration terms?

It was agreed to suspend all statute of limitations and expiration for all the current judicial processes, so that the measures implemented by the Court do not limit the right of access to justice for citizens.

Nonetheless, it is important to note, that, in those cases in which a trial hearing had already begun, it was ordered that these hearings continue to be processed until their completion to avoid future annulments that require to carry out the procedural acts again.

What services are considered essential?

The services provided by the Judiciary that are considered essential are those related to the life, health or freedom of a person, such as preventive detention and other precautionary measures in criminal matters, alimony, child support and domestic violence.

At Arias we continue working to protect the interests of our clients. If you have any questions about this topic, please do not hesitate to contact us to the following emails: victor.garita@ariaslaw.com ; abraham.balzer@ariaslaw.com and german.rojas@ariaslaw.com.

4. Night vehicular restriction and exceptions

The Government of the Republic announced last Tuesday, March 24th, a nationwide vehicle restriction between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., 7 days per week (from Monday to Sunday). This measure began on Tuesday, March 24th, 2020, and has the following exceptions:

• Transport of cargo/merchandise.

• Public transportation, including buses and taxis.

• Vehicles that provide delivery (food, medications, etc.) to houses.

• People driving to/from work corresponding to those nighttime hours.

• Trash collection, fuel supply, funeral services, private security services and construction vehicles.

• Government members, vehicles of international missions, diplomatic corps and consular assistance.

• Public services personnel, official law enforcement and ambulance vehicles.

• Telecommunications service providers, press members and media distributors.

• When driving to a hospital or pharmacy for a health emergency.

The vehicles must be duly accredited or demonstrate the corresponding exception before the traffic authority, when presenting the institutional or business card and / or the labor certification letter. Independent workers must present a supporting document to justify their mobilization during restricted hours.

At Arias we remain at your disposal in case you need help. Do not hesitate to contact our specialized team at the following email: Laura.Perez@ariaslaw.com

Our task force will be monitoring all the actions and possible legal implications ordered by the Costa Rican Government during this global crisis.