In order to protect citizens, Ensenada blocks city access


ENSENADA, BAJA CALIFORNIA (April 20, 2020).- As the coronavirus spreads throughout Baja California, the mayor of Ensenada took an extraordinary step Sunday night of completely closing off access to the city to prevent more cases.

So far, there have been 786 cases confirmed in Baja California with only 12 of those confirmed cases in Ensenada, a coastal tourist destination about 78 miles south of San Diego, California.

Ensenada Mayor Armando Ayala Robles said entry into the city would only be allowed for emergencies, medical appointments, transportation to essential workplaces and to allow for the supply of food and medicine.

“Everything is for the good of our families,” said Ayala Robles, noting the high number of deaths from the coronavirus in nearby Tijuana and in southern California.

Ensenada Baja California (Archive)

Director of Economic Development Fernando López MacGregor said the mayor and city officials had been working with the business community on a contingency plan to protect citizens from falling ill since news of the coronavirus first began in early 2020.

López MacGregor said the city formed the Covid-19 Municipal Contingency Plan with input from several commissions on health, safety, tourism, consumer protection, economic development, social communication, labor affairs, social welfare commissions, as well subcommittees on the environment and human rights.

The commissions have representatives from all three levels of government, as well as members of business chambers, civil associations and civil society, he said.

“We are neighbors of two of the (municipalities) with the highest rate of cases in the country, in all of Mexico, which is Tijuana and Mexicali,” said López MacGregor. “It is important to generate a filter to be able to somehow stop this expansion (of the disease.)”

López said all tourism in the city had already been suspended since “stay-at-home” recommendations went into place in Baja California in late March.

López said entry into the city was closed not just on the Tijuana-Ensenada toll road, a coastal, scenic route often traveled by tourists, but in all directions, including from the north, east and south.

“For the time being, we are asking visitors not to come,” he said, adding the city would welcome tourists “with open arms” as soon as it is safe to do so.

“Do not cancel your trip, just reschedule it for after the emergency passes. There will be an opportunity to receive (visitors) as soon as there are safer conditions for everyone,” he said.

Ensenada Baja California (Archive)

In the weeks following beach closure orders in San Diego, beaches in Rosarito were packed. City officials there say police are still having to ask United States citizens on a daily basis to get out of the water.

Ayala Robles, the mayor, said people in Ensenada could face sanctions if they take advantage of the city’s new coronavirus measures to enjoy empty public spaces, like beaches, for recreation.

Andres Campos, a restaurant owner and the executive director of the Ensenada Economic Development Corporation, said businesses have been abiding by the closure orders.

“We’re doing it with the objective of being one of the first cities to reopen the doors for normal business at least for our local customers because we’ve seen … other places around Mexico and around the world, they haven’t really gone through with what the government asked, and their quarantine is going to be longer,” said Campos.

He said the Ensenada business community is aiming to reopen doors by mid-May by keeping the number of coronavirus cases in Ensenada low.

“Right now, you can go outside and see one of the busiest intersections and you only see a car go through every couple minutes,” said Campos. “I think we are being more responsible than other regions right now.”

Source: San Diego Union-Tribune