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Mexico Caribbean Coast Nears Lockdown  05/14 06:10


   MEXICO CITY (AP) -- The governor of Mexico's resort-studded Caribbean coast 
said Thursday his state is at "imminent risk" of returning to lockdown as 
coronavirus cases there rose steadily.

   Gov. Carlos Joaqun said the state of Quintana Roo, home to resorts like 
Cancn, Cozumel and Tulum, has seen five weeks of increases in cases.

   Joaqun suggested that increased tourism around Easter played a role in the 
rise. Anecdotal evidence suggests tourists are attracted to Mexico's Caribbean 
resorts in part because there has been no lockdown and sanitary measures are 
largely voluntary. Many visitors shed their masks when they reach their hotels 
or beach clubs.

   "We knew that there were large risks during Easter week, that there could be 
a greater number of infections. Unfortunately, that came to pass," Joaqun said.

   Rates in most of the rest of Mexico have been declining, but Quintana Roo 
depends on tourism for 87% of its economic activity, and has instituted no 
travel bans or testing requirements.

   Mexico has never enforced a strict, European-style lockdown, but the state 
currently restricts some businesses like hotels and restaurants to operating at 
reduced capacity.

   At the highest level of alert, which the state has not reached yet, many 
non-essential businesses would be required to shut down entirely. Joaqun said 
the state still has plenty of hospital beds available; hospital occupancy rates 
are one of the criteria used to determine whether to order business closures.

   The state has suffered 2,677 COVID-19 deaths to date, and almost 25,000 
test-confirmed cases. However, because Mexico does so little testing, that is 
clearly an undercount. Only about 226,000 of the state's 1.8 million people 
have been vaccinated.

   In late March, the state's acting police chief patrolled the streets of the 
resort of Tulum, reminding people to wear their masks and complaining about how 
few people did.

   "It is regrettable to see how undisciplined things have become," Lucio 
Hernndez Gutirrez said at the time. "It was truly frustrating to see hundreds 
of people walking around without face masks," noting that tourists were the 
worst offenders.

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