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Mexico eyes nationwide ‘return to normal’ June 1, or sooner for some towns

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A map projected on a screen at a presidential press conference gave a vague glimpse of which municipalities have the highest and lowest coronavirus infections.

Predicting the coronavirus epidemic will peak in early May, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador plans to bring Mexico “back to normal” June 1.

The president’s press conference this morning revealed a map that, in part, indicated hundreds of cities including at least 50 Yucatan municipalities could see lockdown restrictions lifted two weeks sooner, on May 17.

To protect these towns, Mexico will also begin to restrict movement between cities most affected by the COVID-19 virus and places with few infections, the president said.

He asked authorities in towns so far unaffected by the pandemic to “help us establish sanitary cordons” to slow the spread. It was unclear how that would affect workers in essential industries, such as health care.

Reporters squinted to examine a map shared at the press conference. It color-coded every municipality in the nation, with green indicating a place destined for an early reprieve.

But in Yucatan, Merida, Tizimín, Hunucmá, Ticul, Izamal, Motul, Valladolid, Calotmul, Umán and Kanasín were colored red, indicating the highest infection rates, and adjacent towns were in yellow. It was difficult to make out which towns were shaded green.

The coronavirus outbreak may have reached Mexico later than the United States and many European nations, but the economic impact has been significant, with the peso currency weakening about 29% against the dollar over the past three months.

“In the rest of the country … the restart of educational activity … and all productive activities will be from June 1 as long as we continue to comply with all measures,” Lopez Obrador said.

Mexico on Wednesday reported 43 deaths and 448 new coronavirus, bringing the country’s total to 449 deaths and 5,847 cases. However, health undersecretary Hugo López-Gatell said the real number of infections is probably eight times that.

Also Thursday, Lopez Obrador said an additional one million loans would be made available to small businesses and said government spending to stimulate the economy would be concentrated to the months of May and June.

With information from Reuters, Associated Press

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