CANCUN, Mexico – The beaches and public spaces in the Mexican Caribbean reopened to visitors on Monday after the COVID-19 transmission risk level in southeastern state of Quintana Roo was reduced from high to medium.
The easing of restrictions in the state from orange to yellow on the federal government’s coronavirus “traffic light” map allowed the gradual opening of parks, sport areas and beaches, which had been closed since March 13, when the pandemic was declared.
Its reopening, now under strict sanitary protocols, was one of the most anticipated moves for locals and tourists because until now only those who were staying in hotels could enter the beaches.
In this “new normal,” beachgoers must pass a sanitary control, observe a distance of between 2.5 and 5 meters with other groups of families, wear face masks in bathrooms as well as the entrance and exit areas, and consumption of alcohol is prohibited.
In Isla Mujeres, access to Central Beach, North Beach and “Pet Friendly” Beach was allowed, while in Cancun, Delfines Beach – better known as El Mirador (the viewpoint), Chac Mool Beach and Las Perlas Beach, all with Blue Flag certification, were opened.
Maritza Pat Ortega arrived early at Playa Delfines, wearing her 15th-birthday dress, a tiara and a face shield, accompanied by a small group of families and friends.
They only found out about the reopening of the beaches on Friday and over the weekend they fine-tuned the details to celebrate her birthday, which was postponed in June due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was excited because I thought my fifteenth-birthday party plans were going to be completely canceled,” she told EFE, after three months of waiting to be able to take traditional photos of this quinceañera celebration.
The party is still on – there is no date yet, but the Pat Ortega family is preparing to hold a reunion, even if it is a small one.
“Only with family, only a few family members can come,” she added.
Carmen Guillen told EFE that she could not return to Mexico City without feeling the sea of Cancun on her feet after she started a road trip with her sister and brother-in-law several weeks ago.
They had decided to rent a house in the center of the city, but had not been able to visit the beach. On Monday, they were finally able to go.
“I stay in the center of Cancun and I have also been to Playa del Carmen and it was also closed,” she said, adding that they hope to return home in a couple of weeks.
Maria del Socorro Balan Ucan caught the attention of beach visitors not only because of her colorful embroidered huipil but also because of the way she enjoyed getting to know the sea.
Originally from the Ejido de Nohalal, in the municipality of Hecelchakan in Campeche state, and with the help of relatives to translate from Mayan to Spanish, Balam Ucan commented on her experience when she met the sea of Cancun for the first time.
She did not dare to go in because she cannot swim and the waves were too intense for her, but that did not prevent her from enjoying the view and playing with one of her grandchildren on the shore.
In an hour and a half, there were already more than 300 people who had entered the beach and the maximum capacity is 700 people, according to the personnel in charge of access to the beach.