After 2½ months under “stay at home” orders, La Paz began to return to a new normal earlier this week. At it’s worst, our lockdown imposed the following restrictions on all residents and visitors:
All non-essential businesses were ordered closed, but the definition of essential was a matter of debate. For example, restaurants could remain open for take-out/delivery service only.
While essential workers (also a matter of debate) were allowed to move about, the rest of us were basically confined to our homes except to buy food and medicine or to seek medical help.
Only one person per vehicle (presumably the driver) with exceptions for taxis and Uber.
All public spaces (beaches, parks, etc.) were closed and guarded by the military/local police. This included the La Paz Malecón and the main avenue in downtown La Paz.
Masks were (and still are) mandatory in public.
Businesses that were allowed to remain open, like grocery stores and pharmacies, were and still are required to enforce social distancing. Some instituted one-way isles and limited how close customers could get to clerks and cashiers. Some even took your temperature before allowing you to enter their establishment.
As you can imagine, this was a huge adjustment for those of us who chose to stay home and obey the rules. Unfortunately, many people did not and today, on our fifth day of reopening, we see the number of new cases and deaths in Baja California Sur still climbing and still not at their peak.
However, there’s another very real side to this pandemic and that’s the economic impact. As much as 85% of the Mexican labor force is made up of hourly workers who don’t get paid if they don’t work. With all non-essential businesses closed, many people had no income for weeks – and no unemployment insurance to fall back on. To make matters even worse, many businesses have been forced to close permanently as a result of the pandemic, so a lot of jobs are gone for good.
It will take months for the economy of La Paz to return its January 2020 level and the short-term future could be bleak, but I have no doubt that she will recover and prosper once again.