Although the Mexico-United States border remains closed to nonessential travel, tourists are still traveling south to Tijuana in search of nightlife, drugs and sex.
In the city’s red-light zone, strip clubs and brothels may be officially closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but many are simply allowing customers to enter through the back door and a number of the city’s 8,000 registered sex workers — prostitution is legal and regulated in the area — continue to walk the streets, unable or unwilling to choose between working and eating.
Last month a team from Baja California’s Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risks (Coepris)carried out inspections in the Zona Norte after receiving several complaints that it was pretty much business as usual in the area.
“They reported to me that many places are open in the north. We sent the Coepris and they shut them down … yes, they were disguising it, the front door was closed, but they were entering from behind and all the same activities were being held there with the doors closed,” Governor Jaime Bonilla Valdez said.
The newspaper El Universal reported seeing a drunk American stumbling down the street to hire a young prostitute, and witnessed a trio of tourists being offered marijuana and methamphetamine in full view of Coepris inspectors and police officers as they inspected businesses on Coahuila Alley.
El Universal spoke with a prostitute who said she still sees American customers who cross the border seeking sex, but their numbers are fewer.
Strip club owner Roberto Torres, proprietor of El Zorro Men’s Club, told CNN he had to let the women who dance at his club go due to the shutdown, and admitted some of them may have found their way to a number of sex hotels that are operating illegally.
Some prostitutes, such as single mother Alejandra who spoke with CNN, say they are taking precautions against the spread of the coronavirus, such as making their clients wash their hands and shower prior to the act, and requiring the frequent use of antibacterial gel.
Although social distancing is impossible when you are a prostitute, Alejandra said she understands the risk, but she still has to provide for her 6-year-old daughter and simply cannot afford to choose between food and work.
Across the border in San Diego, 33,220 confirmed cases of the coronavirus have been reported, whereas 4,349 people have become infected in Tijuana according to official data.