Sunday, June 16, 2024

Beaches, hotels, restaurants open with reduced capacity in Baja Sur

Monday is a momentous day for the tourism-dependent state of Baja California Sur: hotels, restaurants and beaches were to reopen after being closed for more than two months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hotels and restaurants were given the green light to reopen at reduced capacity to ensure that guests and diners can keep a safe distance from each other, while beaches in some parts of the state will have limited opening hours.

The mayor of Baja California Sur’s premier tourist destination, Los Cabos, said that hotels, restaurants and department stores can operate at 30% capacity starting today.

Armida Castro Guzmán also said that beaches in Los Cabos will only be open between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. this week and that authorities will closely monitor the number of people using them and how well they practice social distancing.

She called on residents and visitors to maintain a healthy distance, use antibacterial gel and wash their hands regularly so that more restrictions can be eased more quickly in Los Cabos.

The tourism sector in Baja California Sur has been preparing for the economic reopening for weeks by establishing health protocols to limit the risk of coronavirus infection. The efforts to make Los Cabos a safe destination were recognized by the World Travel and Tourism Council, which last week gave the twin resort cites its stamp of approval for the hygiene and sanitary measures they have adopted.

Mauricio Peréz Salicrup, president of the Los Cabos Hotel Association, stressed that the tourism sector is ready to welcome back tourists in a safe way that ensures that the destination doesn’t become “a place of risk.”

However, he predicted that there won’t be a quick recovery for Los Cabos’ lucrative tourism sector, stating that there is a consensus that the coronavirus crisis will continue to have a “very aggressive ” impact in 2021.

At least one hotel in the popular tourist destination, the 392-room Holiday Inn Los Cabos, will close permanently. The Presidente hotel group said earlier this month that the hotel and the Presidente Intercontinental in Mérida, Yucatán, will shut due to the “severe impact” of the coronavirus pandemic but didn’t disclose when the closures would occur or what would happen to the properties.

While the employees of other hotels as well as restaurants and other businesses that form part of the broader tourism sector will be no doubt eager to get back to work, not everyone is happy about the steps taken today toward the “new normal” in Baja California Sur, where there were 234 active coronavirus cases as of Sunday, according to official data.

A group of public health workers protested against the easing of restrictions on Sunday in Ciudad Constitución, a city about 400 kilometers north of Los Cabos and just over 200 kilometers from the state capital La Paz.

The medical personnel called on residents to remain in their homes to reduce the spread of Covid-19, stressing that they don’t have the workers, equipment or supplies to respond to a large outbreak. Since the start of the pandemic, 101 coronavirus cases have been detected in Comondú, the municipality where Ciudad Constitución is located, and about two-thirds of that number are currently active.

Three people have lost their lives to Covid-19 in the city but some of the 29 coronavirus patients to have died in La Paz are believed to have been transferred there from the Comondú municipal seat.

“We’re losing the battle, they’re sending us to war without weapons,” said one placard held up by a health worker, according to a report by the newspaper El Independiente.

“We demand appropriate protective equipment, no more fallen soldiers!” it added.

The health workers called on state authorities to reconsider the plan to gradually reopen Baja California Sur, charging that the coronavirus situation was not yet under control.

They said they fear they could be infected with the coronavirus themselves, asserting “we’re not heroes, we are people who are susceptible to contracting the disease.”

Carlos Valenzuela, a doctor, told El Independiente that there is a limited number of health workers in Ciudad Constitución and the majority work in two or three different facilities.

“If the [medical] personnel get sick, this could cause problems for the whole community,” he said.

Source: BCS Noticias (sp), El Independiente (sp), Forbes México (sp) 

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