Three beaches in the popular tourist destination of Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, will reopen Thursday as part of a pilot program, Mayor Laura Beristain Navarrete announced.
Punta Esmeralda, Playa 88 and Xcalacoco beaches, which all have Blue Flag certification for meeting international standards of water quality and hygiene, will open to bathers from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and coronavirus protocols will apply.
Beachgoers must arrive individually or in groups of fewer than four people that must remain five meters apart, and two meters apart in showers and bathrooms. Only four people can share a beach umbrella. Contact sports and group activities are prohibited, as are coolers, food and alcoholic beverages. People will have their temperatures checked upon arrival and must wear non-disposable masks when they are not in the water.
The pilot program will be in place until August 30 and if all goes well it could be extended longer and include more beaches. Beaches will be closely monitored for adherence to restrictions.
People had already been going to area beaches despite their being closed, and it is hoped that the implementation of the new regulations, part of a campaign called “Outbreak Free,” will ensure the safety of bathers.
Nubia López, a Playa del Carmen resident, applauded the reopening, calling it necessary to bring back tourism and spur economic recovery.
“The pandemic is everyone’s responsibility. If we respect the health regulations we can get out more easily. We hope that the program works and that the rules in Playa del Carmen are well explained to us, that there is someone to supervise and that people who do not comply are sanctioned,” she said. “It is a good opportunity to reactivate the economy because here we live off tourism. Hopefully, it will be implemented throughout the state.”
Playa del Carmen is the first municipality in Quintana Roo to reopen beaches. The rest of the state will likely follow suit when the federal epidemiological “stoplight” map moves to yellow or green, indicating a lower risk for infection.
Currently, Quintana Roo remains at orange or high risk for the coronavirus, and as of Monday had seen 9,327 accumulated cases of the virus and 1,215 deaths.