For Ticos, Semana Santa, or Holy Week – Costa Rica’s most important Catholic celebration – means vacation from work, and most government offices and banks are closed, transportation services are reduced, and non-tourism-related commerce comes to a halt during Holy Thursday and Good Friday (April 5 and 6).
According to a Labor Ministry decision last week, most public institutions will be closed the entire week. Others will work as usual but only from Monday through Wednesday.
As for a dry law – which prohibits the sale of alcohol from midnight Wednesday to midnight Saturday – lawmakers approved earlier this year a reform that allows each municipality to decide if whether or not to implement it.
The following is a list of what’s open and what’s closed during Semana Santa:
Government offices: Following an order from Casa Presidencial and the Labor Ministry, all ministries, the Legislative Assembly and Supreme Elections Tribunal will be closed April 2-6. Public institutions such as Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), Water and Sewer Institute (AyA) and National Power and Light Company (CNFL) will be open until Wednesday.
The Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) and courts from the Judicial Branch will be closed, except for domestic violence court.
Hospitals and pharmacies: Caja hospitals will be open Monday through Wednesday only, but emergency rooms will remain open 24 hours a day all week. The Red Cross (1028 or 911) and National Insurance Institute (INS, 800-800-8000) also will attend to emergencies at all hours.
The emergency rooms and pharmacies at private hospitals Clínica Bíblica (2522-1000), in downtown San José, Clínica Católica (2283-6616), in the northeastern suburb of Guadalupe, and CIMA (2208-1000), in the western suburb of Escazú, also will be open 24 hours a day.
Banks: Most BAC San José (2295-9797), Scotiabank (2210-4000), Banco Nacional (2211-2000), Banco de Costa Rica (2287-9000) and Banco Popular (2211-7000) branches will operate as usual Monday through Wednesday and will close Thursday and be back in operation on Monday, April 9. HSBC branches will be closed from 3 p.m. Wednesday until Monday. Citibank branches will be closed Thursday through Saturday; its shopping-mall branches in Multiplaza del Este, Multiplaza Escazú, Paseo de las Flores and Terramall will be open as usual on Sunday, April 9. Call Banco Promérica (2505-7000) and Bancrédito (2551-3011) for their schedules.
Shopping Malls/Cinemas: Multiplaza (East and West) will be closed on Thursday and Friday. The food courts will be open from 12 noon to 8 pm and cinemas will be open as normal. Paseo de las Flores and Terramall open these days but many of their shops will not.
Supermarkets: All places where the dry law will be in effect, bars will be sealed shut and restaurants and supermarkets will be prohibited from selling liquor, including wine and beer, from Wednesday at midnight through Saturday.
Auto Mercado stores (2257-4242) in the Central Valley will be open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday, except for the Multiplaza and Los Yoses stores, which will close at 9 p.m., and the downtown San José store, which will be open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day. On Friday, all stores will be open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., except the downtown San José and Los Yoses stores, which will be closed.
Muñoz y Nanne (2253-4646), in the eastern suburb of San Pedro, will operate as usual except on Friday, when it will be open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saretto (2228-6703), in Escazú, will be closed Thursday and Friday.
Most Más x Menos (2243-7100) stores will be open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, except for the store in Jacó, on the central Pacific coast, which will be open until 10 p.m. Thursday and until 9 p.m. Friday. Stores in Cuesta de Moras in San José and in Alajuela, northwest of the capital, will be closed Thursday and Friday. Walmart (2286-0033) stores will be open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Most Palí stores (2243-7100) will close Thursday and Friday.
Call the Megasuper supermarket chain (2246-0400) for its schedules. PriceSmart (2283-4494) stores will be closed on Friday only.
Mail and shipping: Correos de Costa Rica (2202-2900), Aerocasillas (2208-4848), DHL (2209-6000) and FedEx (800-463-3339) will be closed from Thursday until Monday.
Embassies: The British Embassy (2258-2025), the Canadian Embassy (2242-4400), U.S. Embassy (2220-3939) and French Embassy (2234-4167) will be closed from Thursday until Monday.
Veterinarians: The National University (UNA) veterinary hospital in Barreal de Heredia (2260-9234) is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Dr. Bitter’s clinics in San José and Escazú (2227-5017) will be closed Thursday and Friday. Dr. Adrián Molina (2228-1909) in Escazú will be closed Thursday through Saturday.