A quiet beach in Oaxaca, closed by coronavirus. A quiet beach in Oaxaca, closed by coronavirus.

Oaxaca municipalities announce beach closures but meet resistance

State says the closure announcement was “misinterpreted”

Just hours after mayors in the coastal region of Oaxaca announced strict new health measures, other government officials appeared to walk back on the restrictions.

Last Friday, mayors from a number of Oaxaca communities agreed to close beaches and suspend all tourist activities, hoping to slow the wave of coronavirus infections currently hitting the area. They also prohibited the sale of alcohol, banned large group gatherings and limited hotels and restaurants to operating at 35% capacity. The mayors represented the communities of Pochutla, Tonameca, Huatulco, Colotepec, San Miguel del Puerto, Pluma Hidalgo and Tututepec.

But some state and municipal authorities were not happy with the restrictions. After the announcement, they faced push-back from the state tourism board and the Huatulco municipal council announced that beaches would not, in fact, be completely closed. Rather, they would be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., while nightclubs and bars would be shuttered. Hotels and restaurants serving tourists would be limited to 30% capacity.

The state government confirmed there would not be a total closure of the beaches, telling the newspaper El Universal that while it respected the decision of municipal authorities, Friday’s announcement by the mayors had been misinterpreted.

The beaches where access will be limited include those in Puerto Escondido, Zipolite, Puerto Ángel and Salina Cruz, where visitors will be allowed at 35% capacity, and use of face masks will be mandatory. In some areas, mayors have approved fines and even jail time for those found not using face masks in public.

Furthermore, a minivan service between Puerto Escondido and Pochutla will be halted after the region entered the red (maximum alert) rating on the coronavirus risk map on Monday.

According to Oaxaca Health Services, the coast region has 4,021 confirmed Covid cases and 345 people have died since the pandemic began.

With reports from Milenio and El Universal

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