Mérida is easing restrictions on city markets in hopes of getting the economy moving again.
City markets will now be allowed to operate from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day of the week.
The maximum capacity at Mérida’s markets has been bumped up from 30% to 75%.
The city will also remove barriers installed to limit the flow of people at the Lucas de Gálvez market downtown, and open all doors at San Benito and Aguilar Sierra markets.
The loosening of sanitary protocols comes on the heels of Yucatán turning yellow on Mexico’s epidemiological traffic light system.
Customers and business owners are still expected to wear facemasks and follow social distancing guidelines.
“This is a great step forward for us all. Our city markets are about more than just shopping for fruit or meat, they are a living part of our culture,” said city markets subdirector Fernando Aguilar Sierra.
Street vendors and peddlers are also being allowed to return to most city squares and parks, although high traffic areas such as San Juan park are limiting their numbers to 10.
Only time will tell if shoppers will return to city markets in similar numbers to those of the pre-COVID era.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, several small business owners in Mérida’s markets have decided to close up shop due to almost a year of exceedingly low sales.
City hall authorities say that they will be encouraging businesses to return through financial stimulus programs and loans.
“Rescuing our city markets means rescuing our neighborhoods and communities. We don’t want to turn into a city of nothing but shopping malls and grocery store chains, we have to protect what we have”, said a candidate for local representative, Ernesto Sonda.
Markets in Mérida sell a wide selection of products including fruit, vegetables, traditional candies, local seasonings, flowers, and tourist souvenirs. Most also have several food stalls which serve up traditional specialties such as cochinita pibil and relleno negro.