The first Sunday in February is traditionally Costa Rica’s election day. This year, elections mainly focus on alcaldes (mayors) and their supporting team members, with the next presidential election scheduled for two years from now, also on February’s first Sunday. Alcohol sales were once prohibited on presidential election days due to the dry law, or ley seca.

Bar closures mainly impacted those in regions with large expat populations because the law occasionally coincides with the NFL’s Super Bowl. Authorities used to seal restaurants’ alcohol cabinets and fridges, fining those who broke the law. Bar owners creatively stocked alcohol away from prying eyes and served drinks in plastic cups to bypass regulations. Police presence typically decreased on these Sundays.

In a case from Quepos, a popular sports bar managed to throw a “private party” for the Super Bowl while evading authorities and keeping the restaurant sealed beforehand. After the restaurant was outed, police sealed the coolers and patrons went home content, knowing they had their fun despite the dry law. Now, the dry law is optional, and tourist-favored areas can sell alcohol on election days. With the NFL season extended, the Super Bowl no longer falls on Costa Rican election day, making earlier strategies a part of history.

Key Takeaways From Article
1. Be aware of the Costa Rican election day: The first Sunday in February is traditionally the election day in Costa Rica. If you happen to be in the country during this time, be prepared for potential restrictions and regulations.

2. Expect alcohol sales limitations: On the day of the presidential election, a “dry law” or “ley seca” was previously enforced, prohibiting the sale of alcohol in any form. Although this law is no longer mandatory, it’s important to note that it may still be in effect in certain areas or during future elections.

3. Plan ahead for Super Bowl Sunday: In the past, the Super Bowl occasionally fell on the same day as the Costa Rican presidential election. If you’re a football fan and want to watch the game while in Costa Rica, make sure to check the date and plan accordingly to avoid any conflicting events or restrictions.

4. Be aware of bar closures: On the night before the election day, bars that do not serve food may be closed. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the local regulations and options for dining or watching the game at restaurants that are allowed to stay open.

5. Creative solutions for bar owners: In the past, bar owners found innovative ways to comply with the dry law while still serving alcohol during the Super Bowl. This included hiding liquor and beer outside the bar area and serving drinks in plastic cups to give the appearance that customers brought their own beverages. However, these methods may no longer be necessary due to changes in the law.

6. Understand the history: The enforcement of the dry law and the need for creative solutions during the Super Bowl and election day were unique experiences in Costa Rica’s history. While they may no longer be relevant, it’s interesting to know the background and how things have changed over time.


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