If hospitals become overwhelmed, federal program leans on empty hotels

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The Victoria, and in the distance the Conquistador and the Español, on the Paseo de Montejo are among the hotels closed as tourism has collapsed in Merida. Photo: Courtesy

The federal secretariats of health and tourism are advancing a “Hotel Covid-19” program in Mérida, turning the city’s empty hospitality centers into hospitals.

Anticipating a possible explosion in coronavirus cases, the city already set aside Merida’s two unused convention centers. Now, hotels are cooperating with authorities.

The president of the Mexican Association of Yucatan Hotels, Héctor Navarrete Medina, said hotel owners are cooperating with federal and state health authorities in conjunction with the Secretariat of Tourism. Hotels closest to hospitals will be the first to be enlisted.

The vast majority of hotels in Yucatan’s capital have closed their doors, Navarrete Medina told Sipse. That includes the major hotels on the Paseo de Montejo and in the Hotel Zone, near the private hospital Centro Médico de las Américas. Star Medica in the Altabrisa area has at least two major hotels less than a mile away.

The only hotels open are those that house federal health workers or travelers who cannot leave because their countries of origin closed the borders, he said. Construction has stopped on new hotels that were part of a boom, anticipating increased international convention business.

National and regional tourists stopped booking in the city’s hotels since Mexico’s contingency measures entered Phase 2 on March 24. That’s when schools closed and events were canceled.

Just two weeks ago, tourists could still be spotted roaming the Centro, but visitors have all but vanished in recent days.

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