Dec 18, 2020 - World

Mexico City bans nonessential activities as COVID-19 cases overwhelm hospitals

Relatives of patients hospitalized in the General Hospital of Zone 1 of the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) wait for reports in Mexico City
Relatives of patients hospitalized in the General Hospital of Zone 1 of the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) wait outside for updates. Photo: Alfredo Estrella/AFP via Getty Images

Mexico City and the neighboring State of Mexico will ban nonessential activities in an effort to curb a spike in COVID-19 cases that has overwhelmed hospitals, officials announced Friday.

Driving the news: Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said hospital capacity is at about 75%, but the federal government put the number at 80%, per AP. Families have reported searching for hours to find open hospital beds in the capital.

Details: Starting Saturday, restaurants must close except for takeout.

  • Many nonessential stores must also close and cultural activities will be postponed or cancelled.
  • The restrictions will last until at least Jan. 10.
  • Friday's announcement comes as shopping centers and stores have seen an uptick in customers for the holiday season.

What they're saying: "With these extraordinary measures we will help reduce infections and hospitalizations in the Valley of Mexico," deputy health minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell tweeted Friday.

The big picture: Mexico has nearly 1.3 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 116,480 deaths as of Friday afternoon, per Johns Hopkins University data, though the numbers are believed to be much higher.

  • Mexico City has confirmed more than 19,000 coronavirus-related deaths, and about 20% of the country's cases, per Bloomberg News.

Worth noting: Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has called lockdowns and face-mask mandates tactics of "dictatorship," per AP.

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