Tourism and hotel chambers go to court to fight against dry law

The national tourism chamber and the chamber of hotels have challenged the alcohol dry law and have asked a court to prevent municipal restrictions on sale and consumption for Sunday, election day, and three days during Semana Santa, Holy Week.

The chambers have asked all 81 of the country’s municipalities to not prohibit the sale of alcohol, but some have taken steps to do so.

The complex legal argument was sent to the Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo, which adjudicates conflicts in the law. In one argument, the  Cámara Nacional de Turismo and the Cámara Costarricense de Hoteles say that national law that covers municipalities says nothing about giving them the right to prevent a legal activity.

The two chambers also argue that there are inconsistencies between a new law and an existing one. In the past, the prohibitions against alcohol sales were nationwide. The Fuerza Pública would enforce it by sealing the doors of drinking establishments, sealing the cabinets and coolers where alcohol was kept at restaurants and by covering the alcohol displays in supermarkets with black plastic.

The new law gave this power to the municipalities, and each makes an individual decision with its canton council. The chambers said that they hoped the tribunal takes action to delay the prohibitions quickly.

Citing the impact on tourism, the Municipalidad de Nicoya said Thursday that it would not have a dry law for three days during Semana Santa there.

San José already has said it would not have a dry law on election day.

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