Are people without face masks breaking the law in Yucatán?

An expert on Mexican constitutional law gives us his take on Yucatán's rules and the consequences for those who break them.

Joggers and dog walkers on the Paseo de Montejo don't always wear face masks.
Runners and dog walkers on the Paseo de Montejo often shun face masks. Photo collage: Yucatán Magazine

Temporary alcohol bans, curfews, closed beaches and masking have all been hallmarks of the COVID-19 pandemic in Yucatán.

Most people in Yucatán have accepted these regulations. But it is not uncommon to see locals and tourists walk around town, or go jogging along a sidewalk, without face masks. So what does the law actually say about masking?

No federal law can be used to enforce the compulsory use of masks in Mexico. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has further muddied the water by often refusing to wear a mask himself, even after he became ill and then recovered from COVID-19

But what about state law?

“The use of masks or face-guards is obligatory for all of Yucatan’s population when outside of their home,” Issue No. 34,162 of Yucatán’s Official State Gazette states. 

Although that appears to set an actual law, the document does not lay out any specific consequences for individuals caught violating the rule on cubrebocas, or face coverings.

“These administrative measures do not carry the true weight of the law because, for better or worse, they likely contravene rights spelled out in the Mexican constitution. If such a law was to be passed by Congress, it would almost certainly be struck down by the Supreme Court,” constitutional lawyer Alberto Raúl López Ojeda said in an interview with Yucatán Magazine. 

“But don’t take this to mean you can get away with breaking the rules,” López Ojeda continued. “We are talking about a legal technicality here. You may still get fined or possibly get detained if you go against the rules as they have been published.”

On the same night that new rules came into effect, 60 drivers in Yucatán were fined between 3,943 and 5,000 pesos for driving between the hours of 11:30 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway.