Sonora state authorities have imposed a curfew and other restrictive measures in three cities – including Nogales, Sonora – after declaring them in a “code red” status for COVID-19 transmission.
The measures were announced Sunday and implemented for a period of at least two weeks in Hermosillo, San Luis Río Colorado and Nogales, Sonora.
The curfew runs from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. each night, with businesses and services except pharmacies, hospitals and emergency services required to close during that period, according to guidelines published by the Sonora state government.
Residents can only venture out during the curfew hours in cases of emergency or to acquire necessary medicine.
At the end of two weeks, the start of the nightly curfew in the three cities could be pushed back to 10 p.m., even if they remain in “code red” status, the guidelines said.
In addition to the curfew, the code red rules require nightclubs, casinos, cinemas, theaters and museums to remain closed at all times. Beauty salons, tattoo parlors, bars, cantinas and bowling alleys also have to stay closed. Gyms can remain open as long as they follow pre-established safety rules, and restaurants can make deliveries from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Large-gathering events such as concerts, festivals and sporting events are prohibited, as are social events such as weddings, quinceañeras and birthday parties.
On local roadways, only one passenger is allowed per vehicle, with the exception of immediate family members who live in the same home.
Public transportation will remain in service during non-curfew hours, but buses must limit capacity to 25 percent and keep their windows open.
The clampdown comes in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths in Sonora and the rest of Mexico that coincides with end-of-the-year holidays. The Associated Press reported that Mexico established a daily record for newly confirmed coronavirus cases on Saturday, with 16,105 new infections reported, as well as a near-record of 1,135 deaths related to COVID-19 in the previous 24-hour period.
Sonoran health officials noted that their state had the fourth-highest rate of new coronavirus cases this month through Jan. 7, after ranking near the bottom of the 32-state list earlier in the pandemic. The state had also confirmed 192 coronavirus-related deaths during the first week of January after recording 606 in December.
In Nogales, Sonora, there were 395 total confirmed COVID-19 deaths as of Sunday, an increase of 25 since Jan. 1. The number of confirmed cases in the city reached 3,825 on Sunday, an increase of 113 since the start of the year.
However, given what the AP has described as Mexico’s “extremely low level of testing,” the true numbers of infections and deaths is believed to be significantly higher than the official tallies.
The Sonora state government’s imposition of a curfew and other strict restrictions stands in contrast to the approach of their counterparts in Arizona, which is also in the midst of a post-holiday surge in cases and deaths.
As reported by Capitol Media Services, Arizona’s top health official said Friday that she saw no reason to impose additional restrictions on Arizonans even as hospital bed availability dropped to 7 percent and the state topped the world in rates of new infections.
Instead, Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said during a media briefing that the problem stems from people spreading COVID-19 through small group gatherings and engaging in unsafe behavior, such as not wearing masks. She also pointed out that the restrictions the state put in place last year, like occupancy limits on indoor restaurant dining, remain in place.