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Is it fair to keep some Yucatán bars closed and not others?

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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. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Protestors hold up signs outside the governor’s palace reading “we don’t have enough to eat.” Photo: Courtesy

After a brief period of loosening COVID-19 restrictions earlier this year, Yucatán’s bars were forced to close their doors once again approximately four months ago. 

Dozens of bar owners and workers from around the state made their way Monday to the governor’s palace where they demanded to be heard. 

“We have all the measures we need to keep everyone safe already in place, we need to return to work. Our families need to eat,” said Jesús Herrera Vázquez, a spokesperson for the group. 

But in reality, some bars continue to operate. Some do so as restaurants, and others presumably under the table.  There is little clarity regarding what differentiates a bar from a restaurant in the eyes of the government since virtually all bars in Yucatán also serve food

Back in June,  the state government had said that it would revoke the licenses of bars that operate as restaurants, but this threat seems to have not materialized.

Some bars such as La Fundación Mezcaleria on Calle 59 have been allowed to continue to operate, though certain sections have been closed off. But in reality, the distinction between so-called safe spaces within a venue and those which are off-limits seems arbitrary. 

It is hard not to notice that the bars allowed to remain open are frequented by the more affluent. Photo: Courtesy

What is more, new bars seem to still be popping up, as is the case of Bonampak on Calle 60 which opened to the public in July. However, even this new bar was temporarily shut down for a week for exceeding its maximum occupancy.

Outside seating areas at Bonampak are available towards the back of the bar and on the second-floor patio. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Earlier: Tourists in Mexico go maskless to the dismay of locals

But even bars that continue to operate complain of restrictions, including the 11:30 curfew reinstated last June after only a couple of weeks’ reprieve. 

In Valladolid, several restaurant bars continue to operate well beyond maximum capacity and even feature live music and jam-packed dance floors — with only a few of their patrons choosing to wear masks. 

There does not seem to be any consistency regarding which bars are allowed to operate and which ones are not. That provoked suspicions that the issue ultimately comes down to money — which is to say bribes. 

Some bar owners in Yucatán have begun to float the idea of requiring patrons to prove that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before being granted admission.  But this idea is yet to materialize and likely will not for some time. 

Earlier this summer during similar demonstrations, several bar owners warned that their business would soon close permanently if they were not allowed to open soon.  There is no official tally of how many of the state bars have closed down so far.

State health officials on Monday announced nearly 300 new infections in the previous 24 hours. New cases last week totaled 1,864, an average of 266 each day.

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