The wearing of face masks in businesses and public spaces has been deemed mandatory in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, municipal health director Adán Monroy Justo said after the popular tourist destination saw a spike in coronavirus cases.
In Cabo San Lucas, one government hospital is 81% full and the other is at 30% occupancy, but authorities fear a severe outbreak could test the limits of medical personnel.
The initiative was approved by municipal council members with a vote of 11 to 1, with a lone Morena councilor objecting to what he called an “authoritarian” measure.
It is unclear if there will be sanctions for those who refuse to wear a mask, but warnings will be issued.
The mandate, which went into effect Monday, will last for 15 days and has the support of union leaders and businesspeople in the popular tourist destination.
Los Cabos Mayor Armida Castro urged residents to follow health protocols and stay home as much as possible, warning that a return to lockdown could be possible if cases continue to surge.
“We need to raise awareness among citizens. A few days ago we talked with doctors, and they told us that we had to make an extra effort, that they were receiving between 15 and 20 patients a day and if something was not done, we could be like La Paz, with 110 patients a day,” the mayor said.
Councilors cautioned that many people who have contracted coronavirus are asymptomatic. Last week Los Cabos Police Chief Celso Filemón Lázaro Pérez died of coronavirus.
Some 40,000 free masks will be made available, especially at bus stops so that those who use public transportation can be protected in an initiative backed by state and municipal authorities.
Distribution of the masks began over the weekend in the 10 most vulnerable neighborhoods of San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, among them Lomas del Sol, Los Venados and Auroras where high rates of infection have occurred.
Los Cabos coordinating council executive president Julio Castillo Gómez said that despite the increased rate of infections and deaths, around 20% of the population still does not believe in wearing masks as a preventative measure, and he hoped that the free mask distribution program will help raise awareness.
“We are going for a small sector, 10% or 20% that have not yet caught on, but I am sure that with this they will understand, and they will join, even if they do not believe, out of respect for others,” Castillo said.