In the world of COVID-19, updates are quick and varied, as is the case for Sonora and right here in Rocky Point. As Puerto Peñasco mayor Ernesto “Kiko” Munro detailed in a briefing yesterday, the city was awaiting a formal health emergency alert from the State or Federal level before being able to proceed with steps to close area beaches. Such a declaration came last night from the Sonora Secretary of Health. With the traditionally busy Semana Santa period just moments away, and the waning days of Spring Break still with us, this will be no small task for Puerto Peñasco and other beach communities across the state.
As noted in his online briefing of March 18th, the mayor had stressed “in the strictest sense, a health emergency declaration would mean closure of area beaches, requiring a request for additional support from the State to see this through. In the particular case of Puerto Peñasco, we must assume there will be tens of thousands visiting over the upcoming weeks.”
The magnitude of the task to prevent people from visiting the beach is tremendous. In an interview with news source Proyecto Puente in Hermosillo today, Mayor Munro detailed the first weekends of Spring Break brought nearly 70,000 people to the area, and despite most of these coming from the U.S. (and there being reported incidents of coronavirus in Arizona) no such health alert was given. In the coming three weeks, the city had been anticipating approximately 150,000 visitors (25,000 this weekend, and 125,000 over the period of “Semana Santa” and “Semana de Pascua” – Holy Week / Easter Week)
The mayor has expressed his utmost concern is for the health of residents and visitors and recognizes the tremendous hardship these measures will mean for the city and area businesses. Puerto Peñasco’s economic situation is particularly vulnerable at this time, also due to a US embargo on shrimp from the Upper Gulf of California. Fishing and tourism are the two main pillars of Puerto Peñasco’s economy.
No cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Puerto Peñasco to date. The first confirmed case in Sonora was on March 16th in Hermosillo, and a second case was confirmed today, also in Hermosillo. Mexico presently has 118 confirmed cases of the coronavirus COVID-19, and the first death registered from the virus on March 18th in Mexico City.
Specific details as to how beach closures will be enacted across Sonora’s beaches are forthcoming.