JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) — Juarez officials have seized 148 vehicles during the first two days of a virtual curfew meant to crack down on widespread disregard of a stay-at-home order to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mayor Armando Cabada ordered people to remain in their homes for 10 days starting last Friday. Officials initially said it would be a night-time curfew, but the mayor a day later said the order applied day and night. Only those who are going to work, supermarkets, pharmacies, the doctor or a hospital are allowed to drive on city streets until May 18, per the order.
Anyone on city streets is subject to being stopped by police. If the driver says they got a valid reason to be out, they’ll be escorted by the police to their destination; if not, they’ll be subject to citations or seizure of the car.
Traffic Department Director Sergio Almaraz said his officers stopped 545 drivers during the first two days of the restrictions. Those who were unable to produce documents for the car, owed fines or accrued more than two citations during the stop had their cars taken away on the spot. The rest were sent home with a warning.
Traffic officers are reporting that traffic is down 70% as of Monday. However, a KTSM photojournalist on Monday was able to record hundreds of vehicles along the city’s main avenues and dozens of pedestrians walking through downtown or going into businesses that remain open. Although many wore facemasks, some did not and many ignored social distancing rules.
Meantime, Chihuahua state health authorities are bracing for a new wave of COVID-19 cases and fatalities in the next few days.
“Surely, we will see the pandemic peak in the coming week,” said Arturo Valenzuela, state health department director in Juarez.
The city has officially recorded 507 COVID-19 cases and 113 deaths, but Juarez Chief Epidemiologists says the actual cases could be in the thousands, due to limited testing.