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Looser rules for restaurants, alcohol sales to begin Sept. 1

Archaeological sites and museums scheduled to welcome back visitors Sept. 7

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An economic reactivation pact is signed in Yucatan, loosening rules on restaurants, alcohol sales and other activity during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Screengrab

Updated to add that the state government has confirmed the agreement.

After five months of economic lockdown, an agreement to allow restaurants to open later on weekends and liquor deliveries to homes by Tuesday, Sept. 1 was signed Friday morning. Shopping malls and movie theaters also reopen under today’s agreement. Museums and archaeology zones reopen Sept. 7, as announced earlier by INAH.

The Yucatan state government signed the pact into law Friday morning after negotiating for days with representatives of the business sector to balance health precautions with economic pressures. The document was signed by Gov. Mauricio Vila Dosal, Merida Mayor Renán Barrera Concha and business leaders at the International Congress Center.

The Safe Economic Reopening Agreement was first announced by Roberto G. Cantón Barros, president of the restaurant chamber, Canirac.

As part of this agreement, restaurant dining areas will be open Saturdays and Sundays, still at 25% capacity, but allowed to remain open until 11:30 p.m., an hour longer than before, he said. Restaurants that did so in the past will also be permitted to serve alcohol.

The “ley seca,” which bans alcohol sales, will also be lifted and replaced with home-delivery sales according to the business chamber president, Jorge Cardeña Licona, who proposed the measures. It cuts the current ban short by 16 days, and lets the beer flow on Independence Day. Sunday sales will end at 4 p.m. Liquor stores are allowed to restock shelves starting today.

The dry law had been reinstated in mid-July as a surge in new infections and a shortage of hospital beds became apparent. But more recently, coronavirus data has largely been favorable, although Yucatan remains at the “orange” traffic signal.

Cardeña Licona said that while the dry law helped tame public behavior, it was a serious blow to business owners and workers who did not receive any government compensation.

“Due to the closures that have occurred during prohibition, a little more than 70 beer agencies have closed permanently, because they do not have the economic solvency to be able to stay, since many pay rent,” he said.

Gyms and recreation fields will reopen — still without contact or team sports — Sept. 14 and religious services will be allowed starting Sept. 15.

The 10:30 p.m. curfew for road traffic was revised to start at 11:30 p.m. and end at 5 a.m. as of Sept. 17.

Business leaders rejected proposals that would have turned some downtown streets into pedestrian-only areas, saying it would affect local shops. Already, 60% of businesses in the first and second squares of the Centro have closed permanently, unable to cope with the lockdown, said Cardeña Licona. They lacked economic solvency to meet payroll, rent and utility expenses once revenue dried up.

But an architect, Yolanda Fernández Martínez, a specialist in road and mobility issues, supported pedestrian malls as a measure to avoid COVID-19 contagion chains.

“These are actions that should have been done a long time ago, since the Historic Center of Mérida is a great concentrator of people as 80% of Meridanos congregate at that point in the city,” Fernández Martínez said.

Furthering the economic reopening, INAH will reopen museums, cultural sites and archaeological zones — including 17 in Yucatan — on Monday, Sept. 7. The National Institute of Anthropology and History closed down its sites March 22.

Source: Punto Medio

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