Mexico City will remain maximum risk red on the coronavirus stoplight map next week but some restrictions will be eased.
Although hospitalizations of Covid-19 patients have trended down in recent days, Mexico City will remain red until at least Monday, February 15, the city government announced Friday.
Hospital occupancy in the capital, which has recorded almost half a million confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic and just under 30,000 deaths, is currently 78%, according to the Mexico City government. It had been close to 90%.
Although the red light designation will remain in place, department stores and shopping centers will be permitted to open around the clock as of Tuesday. However, their capacity will be limited to 20% of normal levels and shoppers and workers must wear masks.
Both department stores and shopping centers are required to close on Mondays and admission on other days should be limited to people shopping alone.
Restaurants will be permitted to open for an additional three hours as of next week, with the new closing time at 9:00 p.m. However, the requirement for restaurants to seat in-house diners in outdoor areas remains in place. Eateries with no outdoor dining space will remain limited to takeout and delivery service.
Also under the new rules, Monday replaces Sunday as the designated day of rest for businesses in the capital.
While tourism remains well below pre-pandemic levels, Mexico City’s tourist bus, “el Turibús,” will once again take sightseers around the streets of the capital as of next week. Tourists must sit on the open-air upper deck and wear a face mask while enjoying the sounds, sights and smells of the metropolis.
The easing of restrictions is undoubtedly good news for businesses that have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, government restrictions and the virus-induced economic downturn but many are expected to continue to struggle and more closures are predicted in the coming months.
To help businesses survive, a Mexico City lawmaker has proposed a law that would require property owners to lower rent for commercial spaces while coronavirus restrictions remain in place.
Presenting his bill this week, Ricardo Fuentes of the Morena party said that many property owners have rejected businesses’ requests for rent to be lowered so a law forcing them to do so is necessary.
“There hasn’t been agreement between landlords and tenants, and because of the pandemic a lot of businesses have had to close,” he said.
Fuentes’ bill stipulates that rent would return to the normal level once the authorities declare that the coronavirus is no longer a threat. The bill was sent to Mexico City Congress committees for debate.
In other Covid news:
• Researchers at the University of Guadalajara are continuing to study four possible cases of a possible Mexican variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Natali Vega, head of an emerging diseases lab at the university, said that scientists are also looking at other cases detected in Jalisco over the past month to determine if any of those could be a new strain.
She said researchers are completing genetic sequencing work of the possible new strain and that results will be available within two weeks.
• Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard announced Friday that CanSino Biologics, a Chinese vaccine company, has made an application to health regulator Cofepris for emergency use authorization for its Covid-19 vaccine. He said on Twitter that the vaccine had been successfully administered to 14,425 volunteers in Mexico since last October.
“This vaccine is a single-dose vaccine and will be packaged in Querétaro. What good news!” Ebrard wrote.
If approved by Cofrepris, the CanSino vaccine will be the fourth to receive authorization in Mexico after the Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Sputnik V shots.
• A paramedic dressed in her work clothes was attacked with bleach in an industrial area of Puebla city on Thursday. According to a report by Puebla digital newspaper Periódico Central, aggressors shouted “You’re infected!” at the young woman before dousing her with bleach.
The woman said on social media that the skin on her face was slightly irritated as a result of the attack. She posted a photo of her uniform, which sustained substantial damage.
There have been several reports of attacks against health workers in Mexico during the coronavirus pandemic, most of which occurred shortly after the virus was first detected here almost a year ago.