Costa Rica, the first Concacaf nation to resume play, forced to shut down again

Costa Rica, the first Concacaf country to resume its season after shutting down due to the coronavirus pandemic in March, was forced to suspend play without completing the men's first and second division finals because of an outbreak of the coronavirus.

The top-tier Liga Promamerica reached the final of the Torneo Clausura before Sunday's first leg between Alajuelense and Saprissa, Costa Rica's two most popular teams, was postponed.

Stricter safety measures were introduced after a new outbreak. Friday's total of 119 positive cases of COVID-19 was the most since the outbreak began in March. Costa Rica had averaged 10 new cases a day in April and May.

Julian Solano, the Liga Promamerica president, had hailed Costa Rica's strong response to the initial outbreak as a model for other countries to follow. The country's quick recovery was credited to its strong health-care system that limited the outbreak. The Liga Promamerica parlayed the first restart in Latin America into expanded international television coverage, including a deal with ESPN.

The only Concacaf country that played through the pandemic -- and finished its season -- was Nicaragua, which took few measures to shut down activity and appears to be now paying the price. Without reliable information from the Nicaraguan government, it's hard to gauge how bad the situation,  but there have been reported of "express burials" at night to hide the toll. Costa Rica's new outbreak is mostly in an area near Nicaragua involving agricultural and food workers.

Costa Rica's new lock-down came hours before further loosening, including in-church religious services, was supposed to go into effect.

Besides the Alajuelense-Saprissa series -- now rescheduled for Wednesday and Sunday -- the second division final and the start of the women’s league were postponed.
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