Mexico’s Interior Department urged towns and states Tuesday to stop putting up roadblocks and curfews to stem the spread of the new coronavirus, as hundreds have done.
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The department said in a statement that such measures violate constitutional rights like the right to free movement, and argued that local governments don’t have the authority to enact them.
“The health emergency does not constitute a state of emergency or suspension of rights,” the department wrote.
The department said in a report that almost 20% percent of Mexican municipal governments, about 340, have put up checkpoints or filters to limit people’s movements. Most were concentrated along the country’s coasts, where many beach towns have tried to exclude travelers who might spread the coronavirus.
Puerto Vallarta is one of those towns that have used roadblocks on the three main entry points into the city.
Dozens of towns have also enacted curfews and at least three of the country’s 31 states have threatened to arrest people who don’t obey social distancing measures.
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The department said, “the measures involving the use of force are not proportional, they encourage the abuse of authority, and they can have serious effects on supplies of food and medicine.”
Mexico has about 16,750 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,569 deaths. The country has one of the lowest testing rates in the world with only 65,000 people tested nationwide.