Life carries on as normal in the center of Chilpancingo, Guerrero, despite the worsening coronavirus outbreak.
Businesses such as hardware stores, clothing boutiques, pawn shops and imitation jewelry street stalls have resisted the order to close, according to a report by the newspaper El Universal, and the streets of the state capital’s downtown are busy with pedestrians.
Closing the city’s central square, as local authorities did weeks ago, has done little to dissuade residents from flooding downtown streets.
Families stroll as if the pandemic didn’t exist, people fail to observe the government’s social distancing recommendations and nobody appears to be in a hurry that would suggest that they have left their home to do something essential or urgent.
Street vendors are still out in force selling everything from mobile phone accessories to chilate, a local beverage prepared with cocoa, rice, cinnamon and sugar, and townsfolk line up at banks with less than the recommended 1.5 meters of separation.
Cars continue to clog Chilpancingo’s central streets, bringing even more people into the city’s bustling hub.
It’s not necedad, or stupidity, that brings many people out of their homes but necesidad, or necessity, said a woman selling snacks at a stall on a downtown street.
María told El Universal that she was continuing to operate her business because she still has to pay rent, adding that she also felt an obligation to keep paying her employees.
“They’re single moms that have to take something [home] to their kids,” she said, explaining that paying her workers was her first priority.
Other Chilpancingo street vendors as well as store owners and employees also said that they don’t have the luxury to stay at home during the health emergency period because they live off their daily earnings. Put simply, if they don’t work, they don’t earn anything and they won’t have money to buy food.
Some business owners say that if they close temporarily they won’t be able to open again because they’ll go bankrupt in the interim.
With sales down despite the still-heavy foot traffic, many are calling for the state and federal government to put a freeze on the payment of both rent and services such as electricity and water. To that end, a large group of business owners marched through the streets of Chilpancingo on Monday to demand a meeting with Governor Héctor Astudillo and federal government delegate Amílcar Sandoval Ballesteros.
A brigade of government workers clad in white overalls, gloves and face masks marched through Chilpancingo’s central streets at the same time, urging people to return to their homes and practice social distancing while they’re out.
Meanwhile, coronavirus case numbers continue to climb in Guerrero, a state that is ill-prepared to respond to the pandemic given that many municipalities don’t have hospitals capable of providing critical care to Covid-19 patients.
There were 215 confirmed cases in the southern state as of Monday, an increase of more than 300% compared to just two weeks ago.
Source: El Universal (sp)