Mexico City on Friday announced a plan for reopening that would begin next week by dropping driving restrictions and allowing manufacturing and neighborhood businesses to reopen if they meet health standards.
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Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said that street markets, malls, restaurants and churches could follow a week later, but at reduced capacity.
The plan follows Sheinbaum’s announcement earlier in the week of greatly expanded testing for COVID-19 in the capital. The city plans to make a stronger effort to identify infections and trace contacts as Sheinbaum, in conjunction with the surrounding State of Mexico, tries to safely reactivate a metropolitan area of some 20 million people.
Mexico City hopes to process 100,000 tests per day by July, a dramatic increase over current testing levels, but still far short of some of the largest cities elsewhere in the world.
The capital was never under a mandatory lockdown, but people were recommended to stay at home. In recent weeks, street traffic has increased steadily as the federal government began pushing a return to a “new normal.”
The move comes as new infections in the country continue to surge. The government has reported 134,000 confirmed cases and about 16,000 deaths, both considered substantial undercounts due to very limited testing.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been eager to reactivate the economy, which has shed nearly 1 million formal jobs and is forecast to contract 8.8% this year.
“We don’t think there are going to be new outbreaks,” he said Friday. “We have to be careful that this doesn’t happen and open little by little with health measures, health protocols; and if we see a new outbreak somewhere, return to confinement, everything voluntarily.”