Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Covid-19 not enough to stop annual Day of the Dead candy fair

The Alfeñique candy fair, a Day of the Dead institution that goes back at least 88 years, opened Monday to enthusiastic attendance despite its new traditions: masks, social distancing rules, temperature checks, and wares wrapped more hygienically in cellophane.

The event is a tradition in the México state capital Toluca, where Mayor Juan Sánchez Gómez said that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the city decided to hold the fair with strict safety protocols to allow traditional candy artisans to sell their wares. The city is currently at level orange — meaning medium risk level — on Mexico’s national coronavirus stoplight system.

This year, stalls have been placed at strategic distances to prevent Covid spread, said Daniel García, a health coordinator with the local government. Stalls have transparent rubber curtains separating them, and items must be sold in plastic or cellophane wrap.

Vendors must wear gloves and keep antibacterial gel on hand, by order of the city government, which is recommending that visitors spend no longer than 30 minutes at the fair nor open their purchases on site, and that children and the elderly not attend. In addition, health officials will be controlling capacity during the afternoon and on weekends, when greater crowds are expected.

The fair has fewer vendors than usual this year — 54, down by 30. Some vendors interviewed by the newspaper El Universal blamed that on confusion about whether the fair would take place due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Vendors interviewed said the confusion meant that some artisans didn’t have time to create the sugar, chocolate, and amaranth skulls, Catrinas, skeletons, and caskets that residents buy each year to decorate Day of the Dead altars.

Despite the confusion and new safety rules, the fair saw hundreds of visitors within its first few hours, although many showed up not wearing masks.

The fair is open until November 2.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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