Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum has pledged that the government will provide financial support to people affected by the three-week suspension of nonessential economic activities between Saturday and January 10.
“There will be economic support for these difficult times that we will announce in the following days,” Sheinbaum said in a video message on social media just hours after federal and state authorities announced that Mexico City and México state were regressing to maximum “risk” red on the federal government’s coronavirus stoplight due to an increase in case numbers and hospitalizations.
The financial wellbeing of a large number of people will be affected as a wide range of businesses – many of which are already struggling due to the coronavirus-driven economic downturn – are forced to close for the next 23 days.
All gyms, sports clubs, hair and beauty salons, shopping centers, cinemas, theaters, department stores, bars, nightclubs and most retail stores in Mexico City and México state must close until January 11.
Restaurants will be restricted to delivery service for the next three weeks while hotels can operate at 30% capacity.
The vast informal economy workforce, among whom are street vendors who would normally see their sales increase in the days before Christmas, will also take a large financial hit as people heed government appeals to stay at home.
The businesses and services that can continue operating normally include supermarkets, markets, pharmacies, post offices, bakeries, tortilla shops, small grocery stores, convenience stores, banks, laundromats, dry cleaners, healthcare services including Covid-19 testing stations, public transit, funeral parlors, moving services and mechanical workshops.
The transportation, manufacturing, mining, construction and telecommunications are also considered essential as are a range of government services related to security, water and infrastructure.
As a result of the restrictions, streets in the capital and surrounding México state metropolitan area that have bustled in recent weeks as the end-of-year vacation period approached are certain to be a lot quieter.
The enforced closure over the next three weeks is a big blow for businesses that were hoping to recoup some of their 2020 losses in the final week before Christmas.
The president of the Confederation of Chambers of Commerce, Services and Tourism (Concanaco) believes that it could be the “the final blow for a lot of establishments.”
Noting that businesses have already faced enforced closures this year as well as restrictions on their operating hours and capacity levels, José Manuel López Campos predicted that many Mexico City and México state establishments “won’t be able to open their doors” after the end of the economic shutdown.
López said in an interview Friday that authorities should consider offering loans with favorable terms to businesses. The Concanaco chief said they should also look at granting extensions to businesses for the payment of tax obligations and other expenses.
“The month of December was going to mean relief for the finances of businesses but far from that, it will be a greater burden,” López said.
During an earlier video press conference, he asserted that Covid-19 vaccines won’t provide a short term solution to the current economic crisis.
(Mexico is set to start immunizing people with the Pfizer/BioNTEch vaccine later this month but the number of citizens expected to be inoculated against Covid-19 by the end of the first quarter of 2021 is only a very small fraction of the total population.)
“We won’t be able to talk about a true [economic] recovery when there is a latent risk and the productive sector can’t work at full capacity,” López said before urging people to respect the protocols designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
“If we’re not responsible we’ll have to close businesses again and the damage that does to the economy … [will be] permanent,” he said.
Similarly, Mayor Sheinbaum said in her video message that citizens need to make an “extraordinary effort” to help reduce coronavirus case numbers in the capital and surrounding area, where many hospitals are completely full.
She urged people to not leave their home unless it’s absolutely necessary, wear a face mask, keep a healthy distance from each other and not hold or attend parties or family gatherings.
“The most important thing today is health and life. I know these are difficult times but reducing the curve of infections is urgent. Together we will overcome this as we have done on other occasions. Remember each of our actions has an impact on the reduction or increase of infections.”