More than 200 people have been arrested in the resort town of Puerto Escondido in a span of just five days for not wearing face masks.
The municipality of San Pedro Mixtepec on the Oaxaca coast began a mandatory mask program on October 16 but it doesn’t appear to be catching on with some residents, including the 233 police had arrested as of Tuesday.
“More than about law, it is about justice, because it is not fair that we continue to spread the virus if the authorities do not do something forceful, something that really shakes up the citizens,” Mayor Fredy Gil Pineda Gopar said when he announced the measure on Friday.
Those detained by police for not wearing a mask are given the choice of serving six hours in jail, performing three hours of community service, or paying a fine of 150 pesos (US $7.12). The municipality has already collected 27,000 pesos in fines (US $1,280) from the 180 people who chose that option.
Forty-four people opted for jail time while just nine chose community service.
Among those arrested was a foreign tourist who was jailed on Saturday for not wearing a face mask after he lowered it to smoke a cigarette. The man, identified only as Derek, recounted the experience on his YouTube channel, calling it “one of the worst days of my life, pretty much. I mean it’s in the top 10 or top 15; it was pretty bad,” he said.
Mayor Gil said he was aware of the political cost he may face due to the mandate. “I am willing to assume it because we have to keep order. Someone has to face this pandemic with a strong and firm hand, and we want to be pioneers in the fight against the pandemic.”
According to Oaxaca Health Services, as of yesterday the Costa region had recorded 1,003 cases of the coronavirus and 86 deaths; San Pedro Mixtepec has seen 184 accumulated cases and Santa María Colotepec 55.
Oaxaca as a whole has seen 20,021 accumulated cases of the coronavirus and 1,591 people have died.
Source: El Universal (sp)