A crowded street in Mexico City last month. A crowded street in Mexico City last month.

President agrees with Mexico City mayor: the capital not maximum risk for Covid

Federal health ministry had declared the city red on coronavirus stoplight map

President López Obrador overruled his Health Ministry Tuesday by declaring Mexico City is not at maximum risk for Covid-19.

A difference of opinion surfaced last Saturday when Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum insisted that the capital would remain at the orange high risk level on the federal government’s coronavirus stoplight map. Federal health authorities announced Friday that the city would join five other states and regress from orange to red due to the growing number of cases.

At yesterday morning’s press conference, the president put an end to uncertainty by siding with the city and did so in front of the minister of health and his deputy, who is responsible for directing coronavirus strategy. But he stressed there was no “substantial difference” between the parties involved and that all had the public interest at heart.

“It has been decided,” he said, “because it’s the city’s responsibility, that the stoplight is orange and that is what’s happening.”

Since the stoplight system was introduced last year, allocating stoplight colors to the states has been the sole responsibility of federal health authorities, who have made their decisions based on data provided by the states.

The president played down the issue on Tuesday, saying that the important issue is that there aren’t many restrictions being placed on citizens “because the fact is that now is the time for us to look after ourselves.”

He then went off on a favorite tangent, attributing restrictions on people’s movement to “authoritarian zeal.”

The people are old enough to act on their own without being told what to do, López Obrador said.

The purpose of the stoplight system is to guide states in the implementation of restrictions based on nationwide standards. But many of the decisions have been questioned, particularly by state governors unhappy with the designations they have been given. There have also been questions about the degree of political involvement in the process.

On Saturday, Mayor Sheinbaum urged federal authorities to take into account the number of people who have been vaccinated against Covid in assigning stoplight risk levels.

With reports from López-Dóriga Digital and Milenio

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