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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Policing coronavirus: No one travels without a good reason

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Lee Steele
Lee Steele is the founding director of Roof Cat Media and has published Yucatán Magazine and other titles since 2012. Sign up for our weekly newsletters, so our top headlines will appear in your inbox each Monday and Thursday.
Police checkpoint have been set up all around Yucatan, ensuring that travel is local and necessary. Photo: SSP

Travel through Yucatan gets only more difficult after health officials announced the state’s first two coronavirus deaths on Friday.

Residents in Ciudad Caucel and Fracc. Las Americas reported had to talk their way past a police checkpoint to enter or leave. Delivery trucks and health workers are allowed to pass, but motorists are quizzed about their possible contact with someone infected with coronavirus, and many are turned away, said one Caucel resident.

“They asked him a bunch of questions,” she said, about her husband’s morning commute, “He presented a drivers license with a Caucel address. (They asked him) what are you leaving for … does anyone you know have COVID-19, do you think you have been exposed…etc. And then they let him pass, but others were turned around.”

“All entrances to Las Americas are now policed,” said a longtime resident in that community north of the periferico. “You need to prove you reside here and have a valid reason to be leaving as well.”

Getting in to Merida is more difficult, too. Cars are routinely stopped and drivers questioned. A health worker who commutes from Pensiones to Dzidzantún — easily an hour’s drive — is questioned on the way to work and her temperature is taken at a road block on the way back, each time.

Earlier, police blocked numerous intersections in the Centro to give pedestrians more space to fan out. Only delivery trucks and emergency vehicles are allowed through.

Police checkpoints are throughout Yucatan, and authorities say it’s for a common good.

“We understand the discomfort these measures can cause; we understand that some are bothered; but what matters most to us is their health and life,” reads a state police statement on social media.

Patrol cars with loud speakers announcing orders to stay inside except when necessary have been winding up and down the streets of the Centro and other Merida neighborhoods.

“Never thought I would be living in times like these,” an expat from Canada posted on Facebook.

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