As many of you are now hearing, Costa Rica is planning to enforce Vaccine Mandates starting January 8 2022.
My personal opinion is that they should NOT go down this road. This is not a matter of whether the vaccines are good or not. This is not about whether being vaccinated is right or wrong, or whether or not you believe in the government forcing people to put something into their bodies. This is about the timing and the methods of how they plan to enforce these mandates.
Please take a moment to sign this petition.
We are less than a month away from the start of the high season. We have just suffered through almost two years of a shutdown that has devastated the tourism industry. I know firsthand, as we have been going door to door feeding families, sometimes up to 2,000 per month. THANK YOU to everyone who has and continues to donate, it is greatly appreciated. Please keep the money coming. Tens of thousands of Costa Rican families have been without work. Hundreds of local businesses have closed, and those that are still around, are hanging on by their fingernails. Business owners have exhausted their life savings, trying to just make it to this point. The excitement of this upcoming high season was at a fever pitch, as we all believed we had finally turned the corner. COVID cases are way down all around the globe and people are starting to travel again. Reservations were high, and optimism was even higher in the industry. And then BOOM: Mandates.
In the last few weeks, we have seen an unbelievable amount of reservation cancellations. I have personally had over 200 calls and emails of upset clients and owners, more sad than mad, that Costa Rica would go down this Draconian path. Clients have told me that if Costa Rica continues with this, they will sell their properties and leave; many of them are residents who will stop paying into the CAJA. Many of my clients came to paradise, to get away from the madness that is going on in the rest of the world. They truly believed that Costa Rica was free. I understand, that the pressure on the President is immense as countries like the United States have a lot of sway in the direction Costa Rica goes, as we are dependent on them for a mind-boggling amount of money. But to try and implement this now, just weeks before the season is going to be devastating. Some predict the losses will total $600 MILLION.
I had one family planning to come for two weeks in January. There were 7 people in the group. The daughter, who is pregnant, had not been vaccinated yet, as NO ONE in their right mind would inject this into their body during a pregnancy; heck women do not even drink a glass of wine while carrying a child. The rest of the family was vaccinated. But obviously they are not going to travel without their daughter, so they cancelled their vacation and decided to go to Mexico instead. How many thousands of dollars are lost to this economy in that one cancellation alone? Now times that by thousands or tens of thousands. There was one woman on Facebook ranting about how vaccinating was the right thing to do, and screw those that are not. “There are plenty of vaccinated people who will come instead.” What an ignorant thing to say, coming from a retired person with a pension who spends their days sitting at a bar drinking. They do not own that bar; they do not have their life savings tied up in that business and they are not an employee of the restaurant, who is working skeleton hours trying to make ends meet, after 18 months of hardly any income at all! That bar needs every dollar they can get, because if that establishment closes, then the retirees will have nowhere to congregate and the employees will have nowhere to work either. Please look at the big picture. 30-40% of the citizens of countries who visit Costa Rica, are not vaccinated. So, by enforcing these mandates you are automatically shutting the door to 1/3 of potential tourists and investors, right when we need it the most. And if that family is an example, it only takes one person to cancel a trip for half a dozen.
Costa Rica is not recognizing other very important factors as well. Many people have legitimate reasons not to get vaccinated, pregnancy being just one of them. Many people have medical and allergy exemptions. We have clients from all over the world, who’s religious beliefs do not allow them to get vaccinated. But most important, MILLIONS of people have had COVID and have natural immunity, which any legitimate scientist or doctor will tell you offers substantially more protection from the virus than any vaccine.
The other side of the coin, is that the government is putting the onus on the businesses to enforce these mandates, and if they do not comply, there are serious consequences. So now, a restaurant must designate or hire one individual to stand at the door and check people’s vaccination status, even though they are not the health department. Here we are, after 18 months of making NO money, and now the business must sacrifice one of their waitresses to do the government’s job, instead of serving drinks and food, taking care of paying clients, helping the company make money. And if he or she makes a mistake, the bar can be shut down and fined. Are you kidding me? What is wrong with this scenario; how many potential problems can this cause? How are they to know a fake vaccine card from a real one? Who is going to pay for the equipment necessary to scan these so called QR Codes? Why should the business have to spend more money, to help the government do its job? What happens, as we have seen in cities like New York, where the hostess is assaulted by angry clients who are refused entrance into the establishment? Who pays for her medical leave, when someone punches her in the face? Do we really want this is in beautiful, peaceful, Pura Vida Costa Rica?
Where does it stop? Next, will the Immigration department make restaurants check people’s passports to make sure they have not overstayed their 90-day VISA or if a Nicaraguan is in this country illegally; will the Transit Police have them check their Driver’s License to see if you have any warrants or outstanding parking tickets? Ludicrous. This is not the job or the responsibility of the business owner.
Foreigners from around the world have been investing in Costa Rica for decades. Many of them become fulltime residents. These people purchase real estate, pay taxes, hire Costa Ricans and spend their foreign income HERE in Costa Rica. They pay utility bills, buy vehicles, insurance and furniture, shop in the local markets, eat in the restaurants; that all drive the Costa Rican economy. Some of them start businesses and most of them are actively involved in local charities and community events. Most important is they pay into the CAJA which is broke and cannot afford to see people cancelling their residency. In short, Foreign investment is a HUGE part of this economy. Do we really want to alienate 33% of these people pushing them to relocate to another country?
Do not get me wrong, I am not Anti Vax; I am very close to completing my personal vaccination; but I am Anti Mandates; as I believe this should be a decision made by the individual, their family, his or her personal doctor and God; and I am seeing the financial repercussions starting already. Trying to implement this now is wrong, especially this close to the start of the high tourism season, when we desperately need all the visitors and investors we can get.
There have been hundreds of protests in the streets, all over Costa Rica, against these mandates. The tourism industry and many lawmakers have filed lawsuits and started petitions begging the President to reverse his decision. Let’s hope he makes the right decision before the damage is done, and it is too late, and we are set back years after finally coming so close to getting over the hump.
Otherwise, we will be back to feeding people out of the back of the KING KONG Jeep again.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Please sign this petition and share. If you do not live in Costa Rica, put Guanacaste Costa Rica as your address.
God Bless Costa Rica.