Mexico City lets bars ‘change’ to restaurants to reopen

Mexico

View of a closed bar at La Condesa neighborhood in Mexico City on March 23, 2020. – The government of Mexico City imposed the closure of public spaces, as well as cinemas, bars, theatres and gyms to avoid contact between the population of the capital. (Photo by RODRIGO ARANGUA / AFP) (Photo by RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP via Getty Images)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The government of Mexico City will allow bars to operate as restaurants starting Monday in order to reopen as part of an easing of the coronavirus lockdown.

While bars and nightclubs have been closed for four months, the city is now offering automatic approval if bar owners fill out an online application and agree to offer food and enforce sanitary and social distancing measures. In exchange, they can open at 30% capacity until 10 p.m.

Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said that was to avoid more job losses among bar employees.

Similar measures elsewhere have given rise to symbolic food orders — a handful of chips — for customers who really just want a beer or wine. But Sheinbaum was emphatic, saying: “I repeat, the bars are not opening.”

New guidelines that went into effect Monday also allow movie theaters, swimming pools and museums in Mexico City to open at 30% of capacity.

The mayor delivered her daily press briefing from home on Monday after she announced she was isolating after one of her top officials tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The city government has been performing slightly more tests than the strikingly low level of testing done nationwide. Nationwide, less than one in 100 people have been tested; the city has administered about 1.5 tests per 100 residents.

The city government reports about 80,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and about 9,400 COVID-19 deaths so far.

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