López Obrador says time for Mexico to ‘start opening up’
Jude Webber in Mexico City
Despite Mexico remaining weeks away from its Covid-19 peak, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said it was time to “start opening up”, adding that people “can’t just stay in our houses”.
The president – who last week toured six southern states – said he would definitely go ahead with another trip around Mexico next week. But he said he would take health ministry advice on whether to visit states close to Mexico City, that he could reach by car, or northern states, including some which would require a plane trip.
Reiterating his prognosis that Mexico’s economic recovery would be “V-shaped” – that is, a sharp fall followed by a speedy recovery – Mr López Obrador said: “That is why, carefully, sticking to health protocols, we have to start opening up.”
Mexico from the start of this month added the motor sector, mining and construction to essential activities and the president said that, just as they had reopened, “we have to gradually open other branches of the economy: tourism, in due course restaurants, shopping centres”.
Mexico this month brought in a traffic-light system to govern when activities could resume, but all 32 states remain on red, with very little activity officially permitted.
Still, the president said: “We can’t just stay in our houses.” While the elderly and those suffering from chronic diseases who were more at risk from Covid-19 should stay at home, “we have to learn, ourselves, and be independent, autonomous, not receiving orders, acting always freely and responsibly, knowing how we have to take care of ourselves, what we can’t do and what we should do, not only what not to do but what we can do, what we should do”.
The president insists coronavirus has been tamed and the health ministry says it has plateaued in and around Mexico City, but the overall numbers keep on climbing. The government reported 124,301 confirmed cases as of Tuesday night, with 14,649 deaths, but because of the low level of testing, the official data are widely considered to be a gross underestimation. Hugo López-Gatell, coronavirus tsar, said on Tuesday the country was weeks away from peaking.