Authorities in Mexico City have decided to shut down the historic center this weekend after hordes of shoppers flooded the streets during the week and some businesses failed to comply with coronavirus restrictions.
Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said the two-day suspension of nonessential business in the capital’s downtown will give authorities time to review the reopening strategy and adjust rules aimed at avoiding new outbreaks of the coronavirus.
The Mexico City government said that businesses that fail to follow the rules, such as limiting the number of people inside and the mandatory use of face masks, will be sanctioned.
Non-compliant businesses could be shut down for 15 days and access to entire streets could be restricted if more than 30% of businesses flout the restrictions.
Sheinbaum said that all citizens have a responsibility to help ensure that economic activities can resume safely amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Mexico City transitioned to “orange light” restrictions this week after “red light” rules were in place for almost a month, even though the capital still has the largest active coronavirus outbreak in the country.
The change of status on the federal government’s “stoplight” system allowed more businesses to open, drawing large crowds of shoppers to the capital’s historic center.
Sheinbaum said the closure of downtown businesses this weekend was not “punishment” for anyone but simply recognition that the rules put in place did not work as authorities hoped and expected.
“We all have to sit down again and review what we designed, and between all of us generate the conditions for a much safer return,” she said.
Mexico City Interior Minister Rosa Icela Rodríguez said that officials from the government’s Institute of Administrative Verification will oversee the reopening of businesses starting Monday and ensure that they are adhering to the rules.
It was detected this week that only 40% were complying with restrictions on the number of people that can enter at any given time and that only 50% of employees were wearing face masks and/or protective shields.
Some commercial plazas in the historic center jumped the gun, reopening this week when the government clearly stated that shopping centers could not welcome shoppers back until July 6.
The reopening of shopping centers and department stores has now been pushed back to Wednesday, July 8, Sheinbaum said, explaining that authorities are concerned that they could attract large crowds and thus generate a risk for public health.
Before Wednesday’s reopening, the government will meet with representatives of business groups to discuss the implementation of even stricter measures for shopping plazas and department stores, she said.
Rodríguez said that most street vendors are respecting social distancing norms and not hawking their wares near the entry to brick and mortar stores, subway stations and government buildings. However, some ambulantes, as the sellers are known, are not following the restrictions, she said.
As a result, the zócalo, Allende and Isabel la Católica metro stations, all located in the historic center, will be closed this weekend to avoid gatherings of vendors outside them.
Mexico City leads the country for both confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths, with 50,592 of the former and 6,848 of the latter as of Friday.
Source: El Universal (sp)