JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) — With government hospitals approaching capacity and many people ignoring stay-at-home rules, Juarez has declared a virtual curfew.
Beginning at 10 p.m. this Friday (May 8), police will be stopping motorists and asking them to prove they’re out of their homes on essential errands, Mayor Armando Cabada said.
If the driver says he’s going to the doctor, a hospital, a pharmacy or the grocery store, a squad car will follow them to their destination, the mayor said. If the driver can’t prove essential business, their paperwork and the vehicle’s will be thoroughly checked, and if the driver is given more than three citations, the vehicle will be impounded. In the daytime, vehicles will be allowed to circulate on city streets, but if police see more than two adults in the car, they will stop them.
The new rules will be in place for the next 10 days, Cabada said.
“The next seven days will be crucial for our city. We’re seeing mass contagion (of COVID-19), we must avoid a collapse of our hospital system,” Cabada said in a teleconference from his home, where he’s quarantined after testing positive for the coronavirus this week.
The stepped-up enforcement after 10 p.m. comes amid concerns by officials on both sides of the border regarding a potential spike in the spread of the virus due to the upcoming Mother’s Day holiday.
Cabada said he’s also closing all parks, shooing off street vendors and restricting entry to cemeteries to those who are going to funerals. On the Mexican border, it’s common for people to visit the graves of their mothers or grandmothers during Mother’s Day.
The mayor said police will also be out at night making sure people don’t hold parties at their homes. He said no citations will be issued but the uniformed officers will “invite them to disperse.”
Juarez has recorded 466 COVID-19 cases and 105 deaths as of Friday, though officials admit the undiagnosed cases could run into the thousands due to limited testing.
“We cannot lose what we have gained. We must prevent the collapse of our hospitals,” Cabada said.
The mayor added that he remains asymptomatic and that results from a recent medical checkup found him to be well. He says he continues to conduct city business and is keeping in touch with El Paso Mayor Dee Margo on binational issues, such as the coronavirus pandemic.