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12 archaeological sites in Yucatán remain closed to the public

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Lee Steele
Lee Steele is the founding director of Roof Cat Media and has published Yucatán Magazine and other titles since 2012. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Some Chichén Itzá tourists wear masks, others don’t, in this Jan. 5, 2021 file photo from The Associated Press. Such behavior spurred officials to temporarily shut down the site.

Before the start of Yucatán’s summer holidays, only six of the state’s 18 major archaeological sites were open to the public. That will one day change, officials promise.

Pandemic protocols, which for a long stretch shut down tourism in Yucatán, will be gradually eased once doctors report an end to the recent spike in COVID cases.

The persistent spread of coronavirus has kept all of Yucatán’s ancient Mayan sites from a total opening, said INAH spokesman Eduardo López Calzada.

Most sites still closed are in the Puuc region, the hilly southern part of the state. The big exception there is Uxmal, considered by many to be the grandest of all Yucatán’s Mayan ruins.

Read about them all: A comprehensive review of all of Yucatán’s archaeology sites every Monday

The sites that remain open to visitors are Ek Balam, Mayapán, Chichén Itzá, Uxmal, Xcambó and Dzibilchaltún. These are the sites that also happen to have the most modern sanitary facilities.

Chichén Itzá continues to be the most visited site. Its 2.5 million visitors in 2019 generated revenue that INAH — the nation’s anthropology agency — depends on. It is Mexico’s second-most popular tourist destination, next to Teotihuacán northeast of Mexico City.

Revenue for sites in operation is much less in 2021 as authorities limit crowds. Still, Chichén Itzá is large enough to allow 3,000 visitors at a time. Up to 10,000 paying tourists visit each day.

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