By KELIN DILLON
Due to the rapidly increasing spread of coronavirus, Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo set aside the covid-19 traffic light system and declared the capital in a state of emergency on Friday, Dec. 11.
The mayor’s announcement came after 2,893 residents of Mexico City were hospitalized in the past week alone.
Daily hospitalizations in Mexico City have surged over 400 new admissions per day in December, pushing hospital occupancy levels to 74 percent. Hospitalizations never once surpassed 300 new admissions per day in the three months prior.
On Saturday, Dec. 13th, Mexico reported 12,057 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the country’s total to 1,241,436. A reported 685 new covid-related fatalities raised Mexico’s death toll to 113,704, the fourth largest in the world behind only the United States, India and Brazil. Over 18,500 of those deaths come from the capital city.
Sheinbaum added to her announcement that Mexico City is only one week outside of returning to the red zone, which would effectively shut down the city again.
The mayor of the capital stressed five rules to follow during this state of emergency_ Citizens should stay home as much as possible; if they have to go out, masks are required and social-distancing regulations must be followed. Parties and social gatherings are banned, grocery shopping and purchases should be completed by only one member of every household, and those who tested positive for covid need to self-isolate and report their case status.
“Only with the participation of all will we be able to stop the chain of infections,” Sheinbaum said. “If there is no citizen participation, we are not going to reduce the contagion curve.”
The government of Mexico City revealed there will also be financial repercussions for citizens neglecting the mayor’s new mandates and social-distancing regulations.
Patricia Ruiz Anchondo, head of the Social Prosecutor’s Office of Mexico City (Prosoc), announced that inhabitants of the capital city who neglect to follow new restrictions on throwing parties are liable to pay a fine of 8,686 pesos for their first offense. The fine will be doubled to 17,376 pesos for repeat offenders.
Around 60 percent of tips called into the Prosoc have been concerning neighbors violating the social-distancing mandates by having large parties and family gatherings with loud music, said Ruiz Anchondo.
Mexico City Unit of Account (UCCM) will also be given power to apply fines 10 to 100 times as large for violators in accordance with Mexico City Property Law Article 87.
As of Thursday, Dec. 10, the Prosoc had yet to give out any fines, and will soon hold a press conference to specifically outline the restrictions on parties held in private homes.
Ruiz Anchodo said that the best way to avoid conflicts and fines would be to simply not have parties, and take the pandemic seriously.
As the holiday season approaches, restrictions will also be applied to businesses in both Mexico City and the State of Mexico (Edoméx) in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Starting on Monday, Dec. 14, and for the following two weeks, stores deemed nonessential will be required to close at 5 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, said the governor of the State of Mexico, Alfredo del Mazo Maza. Near identical restrictions will be applied in Mexico City.
This mandate includes gyms, shopping malls, museums and cinemas. Restaurants will be able to remain open after 5 p.m., albeit exclusively for to-go orders.
Essential businesses, like pharmacies and supermarkets, will be allowed to remain open during their regular hours at a 30 percent capacity.
Bars and nightclubs will remain closed as large social gatherings continue to be prohibited.
“If we act responsibly today, we will have a less complicated end of the year and start of the next one,” said Del Mazo.
Prior to Sheinbaum’s announcement, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) called upon citizens to follow social-distancing regulations in his press conference on the morning of Friday, Dec. 11. All inhabitants of Mexico should remain inside as much as possible and forfeit their traditional holiday parties, he said.
López Obrador insisted that following these rules would be voluntary and no curfew would be imposed.
AMLO notably did not mention the importance of citizens wearing masks to prevent covid’s spread, in line with the president’s own personal policy of declining to wear one. López Obrador has been continually flippant about the danger of coronavirus, notoriously kissing and shaking hands with his constituents all throughout the pandemic, including children.
As the cases in Mexico continue to skyrocket, some are searching for accountability elsewhere.
Lilly Téllez, a senator for the conservative National Action Party (PAN) and opposition to AMLO’s National Regeneration Movement (Morena), called for the incarceration of Hugo López-Gatell, undersecretary of prevention and health promotion at the Secretariat of Public Health, in relation to “actions, omissions and negligence in the care and management of the pandemic.”
“We demand jail,” said Téllez in a tweet on Saturday, Dec. 12.
The PAN presented their complaint against López-Gatell to the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) back in November, requesting a thorough investigation into his alleged failures in handling the pandemic in Mexico, and “corresponding sanctions for those who are responsible.”
In the meantime, citizens of Mexico City will shoulder the responsibility of preventing covid’s spread as the mayor’s new rules are implemented in the capital beginning on Monday, Dec. 14.
…Dec. 14, 2020