The federal government created a campaign with Susana Distancia.
“It’s a huge mess of disinformation,” says the co-owner of one of the new trendy restaurants in downtown Tijuana (we talked online, she prefers to remain anonymous). “My dad is over at city hall right now y traen un desmadre (and it’s a mess). City hall made an announcement not to open, but four hours later they deleted it. Now they say we can open at our own discretion, but then the employees are going to complain. As of now, whoever wants to come to work, gets paid, otherwise we can’t pay them. We only have delivery and take-out options.”
The virus pinatas re-stocked (150 pesos)
The state of Baja issued an announcement about COVID-19 on March 24 which suspended activity of non-essential businesses (clubs, bars, movie theaters, casinos, churches). One of the bullet points in the announcement advised restaurants to do delivery and take-out only; if dining in, to keep a safe distance. But it was only a recommendation, not a law to be enforced. The announcement recommended that people not go to crowded areas such as parks, markets, swap meets (sobre ruedas), gyms, but there is no enforcement.
The announcement was taken down and a similar announcement was made the next day.
The deleted announcement had gyms as a non-essential establishment, but it was moved to the bullet point as only a recommendation.
Shrimp tacos – only to-go
The federal government created a campaign with a heroine named Susana Distancia (Susan in Spanish a play on words with “your health;" the name of the heroine translates to “your healthy distance”). The Mexican president (AMLO) is encouraging people to go outside, keep consuming, and to visit favorite restaurants with the whole family.
“We are shutting down Thursday (March 19) and only operate delivery or take out,” said chef José Figueroa of La Carmelita and El Casimiro restaurants. One week before the government’s announcement, breweries and restaurants took it into their own hands to provide only delivery or takeout or to shut down completely.
Tijuana city hall March 25 announcement on Facebook
“We are not closing until they make us close,” said the owner of the only brewery/restaurant that remains open. The establishment has a large table in the entrance with big jugs of hand sanitizer and plenty of paper towels and tissues. They put signs on every other table that read “Keep your distance, table not available.” This was all done a week before the government’s announcement, and they remain open.
Border crossings have been limited in a joint agreement between San Diego and Tijuana; however, it is reported that the Mexican border has done virtually nothing to implicate change. The U.S. has limited the border at both entries. You can only cross if it’s essential; no tourists are allowed to cross. Daily border crossers report that they have been crossing as usual.
“Is the border open? Is the shrimp taco place open?” I woke up on Tuesday, March 24 to text messages from my friend Cero from San Diego. I explained that the border was open for only essential matters, he deemed shrimp tacos and Mexican candy shopping essential. He crossed walking through PedEast in San Ysidro and reported that neither county's border staff asked him anything out of the norm.
In Tijuana public transportation is crowded; some bus drivers wear masks and gloves, but others don’t. Street vendors of all sorts remain open. The tacos in my neighborhood display handwritten signs that they only have take-out but the taqueros told me I could sit down (I still got them to-go). The candy store that sells the Corona virus-shaped piñatas has restocked. I bought one for myself (150 pesos).
The number of cases in Tijuana is low, but is it because there is almost no testing? Factories, where hundreds of employees work, remain open.