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Notebook: life in Mexico City slows down

Text by Battiste FENWICK

Latest update : 2009-05-06

The Mexican government is introducing more security measures as the swine flu death toll climbs. On Tuesday, authorities closed thousands of restaurants in Mexico City.

Wednesday, April 29th

 

The swine flu crisis worsened on Tuesday as the government announced the closure of the 25,000 restaurants in Mexico City. They will still be allowed to sell takeaway food.


 

Authorities also advised residents to wear masks but they are not obligatory. Taxi drivers, however, are obliged, as of  Wednesday, to wear both masks and latex gloves. Those who do not respect the rules will be arrested and their vehicle taken to the car pound.

 

 

Juan Antonio is a taxi driver. Over the last three days, he’s lost a third of his clients and he feels the situation could get worse. “I understand that important measures need to be taken, but with a mask and gloves I’m going to scare my clients,” he said.

 

Mexicans are gradually deserting public places. The mall Reforma 222 is a clear indicator of the crisis. It’s almost empty, even in the middle of the day.

 

The few people who dare to go there are young people with lots of free time due to government rulings.
Cesar and Ruben are high-school pupils. Their school - like others in Mexico - is closed until at least May 6. They’re not taking the crisis very seriously. “We don’t wear masks because we don’t feel ill. And we find them ugly… We’re not beautiful with them on,” says Cesar.

 

Judith and Oscar both work as waiters in a restaurant. Their friend Itayetzy is a student. They are all affected by the crisis in different ways. “Judith and I,”  says Oscar, “we worry about the immediate future. The restaurant where we work is closed until further notice. Who is going to pay our rent, our bills, our food?”

 

 

"For us, students, it’s a bit like being on holiday," adds Itayetzy, “but the situation is worrying. Yes, I’m scared. That’s why I almost never take off my mask.”

 

Eduardo is a high-school student. His Swedish friends Maria and Tove are on holiday in Mexico. They say they feel safe, but do admit the crisis has affected them. “I’m skeptical. I think the media is exaggerating the crisis. However, my day to day life has changed," he says. "Everything is closed: There’s almost nothing to do in this town.”

 

“We are supposed to go back to Sweden tomorrow, but I don’t know if they’ll let us leave Mexico. I hope they won’t put us in quarantine!” said Tove.

 

Read Gallagher Fenwick's earlier posts from Mexico City on Monday April 27.

 

Date created : 2009-04-30

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