Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Isla Mujeres Daily News & Events Tuesday, March 31

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Update summary on Coronavirus-related changes in Isla Mujeres & Mexico
      On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) upgraded Mexico's Covid-19 status to Phase 2, and the federal government began advising and then pleading with everyone to stay in their homes, except for vital, necessary outings with strict attention to social distancing and hygiene measures.         
     Non-essential businesses were advised to close for one month, and to respect labor laws, providing solidarity for their employees. Governmental offices discontinued in-person transactions and private offices were advised to follow suit. Cancellation of events and religious services was strongly encouraged. Public schools have been closed since the 20th.
       Mexico's coronavirus czar, Dr. Hugo Lopez-Gatell, issued repeated appeals warning Mexicans that staying home for the upcoming month is their last chance to restrict the spread of this epidemic. He is emphasizing that cases are now accelerating, and we will quickly enter Phase 3 unless people stay home, and there won't be enough hospital beds.
       President Obrador issued the same message in a video appeal on Friday, saying that only companies producing basic goods and services should remain open. He provided a graph, explaining that noncompliance would cause rapid contagion among a large percentage of the population, and there would be a shortage of hospital beds. If people stay home, the number of projected cases would be lower, and spread out over time, allowing better medical coverage.
       As of Sunday, there was a total of 993 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Mexico, with 20 deaths. Fourteen percent of the confirmed cases required hospitalization. The first confirmed case in Mexico occurred 30 days earlier.
       The first confirmed case in Quintana Roo occurred on Friday, March 13, in Cancun. As of Sunday, the state reported 42 confirmed cases with one death, with 4 patients hospitalized and the rest in social isolation. There was a suspected case in Isla Mujeres last week, whose results were negative on Friday. The confirmed cases are distributed as follows: 29-Benito Juarez (Cancun), 8-Solidaridad (Playa de Carmen), 2-Tulum, and 1 each in Cozumel, Bacalar & OTB (Chetumal).
        In Isla Mujeres, changes began about a week and a half ago, with disinfection of public vehicles and arriving vehicles, screening at the ferry terminals, closures of bars & gyms, prohibition of liquor sales in stores, and an informational campaign about hygiene and social distancing, staying at home, and protecting the elderly and vulnerable. Tourist attractions & many businesses closed, and events & church services were cancelled. First the number of taxis was reduced by fifty percent, and now the buses have followed suit. Tourists have continued to arrive.
       The Ultramar ferries from Gran Puerto reduced their crossings, then added two round trips for social distancing, and now reduced them again, due to decreased demand. There are complaints in today's news from residents who want authorities to enforce two empty seats between passengers. They have also requested that there should be three resident-only ferry crossings (morning, afternoon, evening) for locals who must go to the mainland for medical appointments or other essential trips.
       Last week, the tourism excursion boats were banned from coming to the docks of Isla Mujeres, which included the catamarans, booze-cruises and other excursion-tour boats. Ferries were discontinued from the Hotel Zone, and tour groups with guides were no longer allowed on the passenger ferries.
        Sunday, authorities began enforcing a new Federal order banning all nautical activities in the ports except those authorized for passenger or cargo purposes. Harbor Masters throughout Mexico were instructed: "From this date until further notice, you must deny dispatches and departures to vessels dedicated to the provision of nautical tourism services, including minor Mexican and foreign recreational and sports vessels; as well as Mexican and foreign vessels for private use, in order to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV2 virus (COVID-19)."
       Sunday, municipal police and personnel with the municipal department of Civil Protection and with ZOFEMAT (Federal Zone agency) made a tour of the beaches, politely inviting tourists and residents to leave the beaches and public areas and return to their homes. The Director of Civil Protection explained that the free transit of any person is not being restricted, but they are politely inviting the population to contribute to preventing the spread of this virus in our municipality. He said preventative measures against this global health alert are everyone's job, and by following the health recommendations, we can make a difference. Several Civil Protection and municipal police vehicles formed a procession with sirens and announcements recommending that people stay in their homes.
       The Governor has promised food aid beginning in April for families who are out of work. Ruben, of Ruben's Restaurant, has been collecting donations via Paypal and distributing dispensas of basic groceries to families in need (link below). A group of foreign residents are accepting donations to help families in need (link below). At the fire station, the bomberos have joined the campaign:"If you need something, take it & if you have plenty, donate some". The City and DIF are organizing assistance. Saturday, the City hand-delivered pension checks to the elderly in their homes for their safety. City officials have donated portions of their salaries toward food assistance, and municipal employees are being paid while offices are closed.




The Government of Mexico had declared a Health Emergency and on Monday night announced seven new health security measures to prevent massive infections of Covid-19, which are increasing.
The Secretary of Foreign Relations, announcing the health emergency at a press conference, said that the Ministry of Health will define the actions to be taken regarding the contingency. In addition, he called on all sectors of society to close ranks around this national emergency situation, in order to reduce the economic impact over the upcoming month, when people are advised to stay home and suspend non-essential activities. The Measures are:

1. Suspension of all non-essential activities March 30-April 30.
     Essential activities include attending to emergencies in the medical and health sector, both public and private; public security, integrity and national sovereignty; legislative activity, essential sectors for the functioning of the economy, and governmental social programs will continue.

2. The National Program of Healthy Distancing is extended until April 30. 
   No meetings of more than 50 people, hand washing, etc. 

3.The population is urged to Voluntarily Stay as at Home with Voluntary limitation of mobility.

4. People over 60 or diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension, immunosuppression, or pregnancy should not go to work, even if they have an essential job.

5. The Secretary of Labor will determine when the return to work will begin.

6. Suspend censuses involving physical interaction.

7. Implement all these measures with full respect of human rights.

The Federal government closed the ports except for cargo & passenger boats, stopping tourism & private small boats. The City has officials stationed at the ferry terminal, sending tourists back on the ferry they arrived on. There are officials at the beach entrances advising people to comply with recommendations to stay home except for essential outings; that this is not a time for vacationing, it is a Health Emergency. Announcements are also being made from police vehicles, and people in public parks and other public spaces are being sent home.

VIDEO from Isla Mujeres al Momento: The Director of Civil protection explains that they are sending tourists back on the same ferry they arrive on, and this will be an ongoing operation, with the arrival of every ferry, in compliance with the recommendations of the federal Ministry of Health. Tourists are advised to return to their hotels or homes, because this is a worldwide health contingency, and a time for implementation of preventative measures, not a time for vacations.

If you feel sick and suspect you could have Coronavirus, here is a link to an online health quiz where trained doctors provide information and steps to follow for a diagnosis.https://salud.qroo.gob.mx/portal/cuestionario/

As of 6pm on March 30th, there have been a total of 224 suspected cases of Covid-19 in Quintana Roo, whose lab results are 150 negative, 29 under study, one death and 44 positives, with 4 hospitalized and 40 in social isolation. The majority, 30, are in Benito Juarez (Cancun), with 9 in Solidaridad (Playa del Carmen), 2 in Tulum, and 1 each in Cozumel, Bacalar, and OPB (Chetumal). You are reminded to stay home. (The first case in Q. Roo occurred on Friday, March 13th.)

From the City....

The City is posting guards at the popular entry points to the beaches to invite beachgoers to to return to their homes as a preventative measure during this health contingency caused by Covid-19, with the goal of caring for the population by promoting social distancing to avoid the risk of contagion and spreading of the virus.
The Director of ZOFEMAT (Federal Zone agency), Karem Pinto Aguilar, accompanied by personnel with Civil Protection & the Firefighters, as well as municipal police officers, took a tour of the recreational beaches, including Playa Centro, North Beach and the Pet Friendly Beach to urge people to return to their homes and prevent themselves from exposure during this worldwide pandemic, in accordance with the recommendations of WHO, SSP (Public Health Ministry) and state and federal governments.
She said, "We aren't impeding free transit of the public beaches in our municipality, but we are recommending that your stay in your homes and only go out when necessary, taking preventative measures. We kindly ask you to take care and return home. We want to raise awareness to the population that if we work together and follow health recommendations, soon we will all get out of this situation."
She explained that staff from ZOFEMAT, municipal Police, and Civil Protection will be standing guard on the recreational beaches to urge beachgoers not to expose themselves and to only go out when necessary, taking preventative measures. She said, "The most important thing right now is to "close the door" on coronavirus, and one of the main recommendations is to avoid groups, and therefore, we are contributing to raising awareness".
In conclusion, Ms Pinto Aguilar said that in accordance with instructions from the Mayor, awareness campaigns have been intensified, and although there have been no positive cases, the municipality isn't exempt from this disease and the only way to avoid contagion is by following health recommendations like staying in your homes to avoid its spread, in addition to frequently washing your hand with soap and water, as well as following protocols when coughing or sneezing.

VIDEO of the Mayor explaining the measures that have been implemented, the importance of staying home except for essential needs & not gathering in public places, including at the beach, and the importance of using social distancing and hygiene measures if going out for essential reasons.

A reminder that social isolation reduces the contagion of coronavirus. Stay at home & together we'll fight Covid-19.

Various sectors of society have united and are suspending service on Isla Mujeres due to Covid-19, to protect the community by temporarily closing their doors.
        As a preventive measure in the health emergency caused by Covid-19, in Isla Mujeres, the various sectors of society have joined the municipal government, and have suspended their services to prevent the contagion and spread of the virus in the municipality.
         As has been announced in official sources of communication, Isla Mujeres is still free from positive or suspected cases under study of the coronavirus (There was one suspected case last week which was negative), and the municipal government headed by Juan Carrillo Soberanis, calls upon everyone to follow the health recommendations issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and continue in that tenor.
       Among the most important actions is social distancing, therefore, the Captaincy of Puerto has closed the possibility of docking tourist boats, catamarans and boats from Puerto Juarez, allowing only the passenger and cargo ferries. The hotel sector-by its part - has temporarily closed its doors and an intense campaign is being maintained for the population to remain in their homes.
       Similarly, permanent guards have been placed on the beaches of the municipality to invite bathers to return to their homes with the sole purpose of caring for the population to avoid agglomeration; also, bars, clubs, gyms, parks, sports courts have been closed and large tournaments and events have been cancelled.
       These measures are complied with by the island government to safeguard the citizenry from the possible contagion of Covid-19, therefore officials are making regular visits to restaurants to urge them to join prevention protocols, such as are the implementation of the healthy distance on their premises, frequent hand washing, as well as inviting their diners to frequently wash their hands.
       The City continues to implement the disinfecting of all vehicles entering  the island via  the ferry from Punta Sam, in the Continental Zone, as well as public transport trucks and taxis of the municipality. The offices of the Town Hall are also being disinfected with the aim to care for collaborators and citizenship.
       In addition, early detection health screening of patients with symptoms , and temperature screening have been implemented to detect any suspicious cases in the various entrances to the island, such as the docks of Ultramar, Perla Negra, El Comején, and others. (Sic? This info is probably outdated, tho it was published today around noon. Boats are no longer allowed to move around Mexican ports according to a  federal mandate to the Harbor Masters & notification was given on Sunday, except the ferries...Navaganto departs from the Puerto Juarez dock where Perla Negra docks, but El Comejen is a private dock & la Perla Negra boats are tourist boats & prohibited for operating now.).
     Among other actions, the City, in coordination with the Federal Consumer's Office (Profeco), tis monitoring that the prices of basic groceries are maintained in accordance with set standards for the basic items, and tours are carried out in various businesses in the municipality to verify that they are respected.

 This is the federal mandate to the Harbor Masters--

Federal order suspends maritime traffic throughout Mexico except authorized passenger and cargo vessels.

     Until further notice, Port Authorities throughout Mexico will deny departures and dispatches of vessels that offer nautical tourism services, as well as the smaller recreational, sport, and private boats. After the notice was officially published on March 24 by the Secretary of Health, it was sent to all the Harbor Masters throughout the country, establishing the preventative measures they are required to implement for the mitigation and control of the health risks caused by the Covid-19 virus.
      In Article One, it says that all civil and military authorities, a well as individuals and agencies of the three levels of government will be obligated to implement preventative measures against Covid-19.
      These measures were instigated because although an emergency exists, the number of positive cases is increasing throughout Mexico. In the northern part of Quintana Roo, many sailors have not wanted to take the warnings of the Ministry of Health seriously, but now they will have no choice but to remain inactive until further notice.
      The Harbor Masters are instructed: "From this date until further notice, you must deny dispatches and departures to vessels dedicated to the provision of nautical tourism services, including minor Mexican and foreign recreational and sports vessels; as well as Mexican and foreign vessels for private use, in order to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV2 virus (COVID-19)."
TV Isla Mujeres notes--In the case of the Islands (Holbox, Isla Mujeres and Cozumel) only the route and cargo vessels will remain in operation. (and presumably Naval & Civil Protection boats and other official vessels.)

The caption says to stay home & if you go out, to maintain a healthy distance of 2-3 arm lengths from other people.

TVisla Mujeres    

A 29 year-old Frenchman aboard a kayak was rescued by personnel with the Navy, who were members of the Search and Rescue unity on patrol in the vicinity of the island and realized the kayak was taking on water (had "una vía de agua"--place where water came in). He was provided with assistance , taken to the Naval pier, and departed by his own means in good health. Naval personnel invited him not to carry out activities outside his home and to participate in Healthy Distancing until the Covid-19 contingency is over.

VIDEO from Isla Mujeres al Momento --The reporter is saying that nearly all commercial activity on this tiny island has been suspended & residents are expressing concerns on social media about coronavirus & merchants are complying with recommendations to close nonessential businesses, which is advised for the next month. He says Ultramar is still selling tickets and should be advising tourists that practically everything on the island is closed, including the beaches, and he says the Port Authorities should talk to Ultramar about that, because islanders are expressing their concern on social media about risk of importing the virus via tourists on the ferry. (The "Alicia" he refers to is the head of APIQRoo, the state Port Authority).


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"Reverse Sunset" (looking east from MVC)
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Fine dining a few steps away at Da Luisa or try the neighborhood eateries a couple blocks farther. We provide a list of links & direction to over 20 eateries within ten minutes walk, including Mango Cafe,  Mike's Pizza, Brisas, Rosa Sirena, Coco Jaguar, Manolitos, La Chatita, Green Verde, Kash Kechen Chuc, and the large department store-grocery Chedraui & the local craft brewery.  Visit marinas, bars, & beach clubs that are minutes away by bike or on foot. Attend Yoga classes a couple villas away at Casa Ixchel. Fresh juice, produce & tortillas a few blocks away in the village, as well as a variety of other stores.
Full moon rising over the Caribbean 
 At Sunset--March  9  7:09p (sets 7:07a)
March 10   8:13
March 11   9:17
 March 12  10:20
 March 13   11:22
This is the second of four supermoons for 2020. The Moon will be at its closest approach to the Earth while full, causing it to appear slightly larger and brighter than usual.

 Sunset  6:52-7:02pm (beginning vs end of month)
Sunrise ~7:07-6:40am
Painting by Pamela Haase at MVC
The Events section will resume when there are public events scheduled.

Sources for Weather Information:
LINK to Civil Protection Q Roo weather bulletin  (Spanish)
LINK to Mexico National Weather Service (Spanish)
 LINK to satellite images for the Mexico National Weather Service
 LINK to GOES East Band 16 GIF (animation)
LINK to a private weather station on Isla Mujeres


The buses operate from 6a to 10p. The overhead digital display indicates whether they're going to the Tourism areas or the Colonias.The bus numbers don't indicate the route, they're numbered 1 thru 10.

The main downtown stops are just south of the Maritime (Ultramar) Terminal & across the street from it. In Centro, the buses stay on Medina, except they turn around near the Convention Center, behind the downtown Mercado. Outside of town, there are no designated stops & you flag them. Exit thru the back door, first pushing the red button nearby so the driver knows to stop.

Pay the driver 38 pesos/$2usd (or $9/175p for an all day pass). The front seats are for seniors, disabled & pregnant women. The 32 passenger buses have air conditioning & security cameras. (State residents pay 10p, INAPAM card holders & local students pay 5p.)  LINK to bus company page on FB.


Route 1 goes down the western side on Rueda Medina and returns northward on the east side via Jesus Martinez Ross. Its west-east transit is Paseo de los Peces in colonia La Gloria.

Route 2 goes down the eastern side on Jesus Martinez Ross and returns northward on the west side via Medina. Its east-west transit is also Paseo Peces.

Routes #1 & #2 aren't exact opposites.
#1 takes J.M. Ross northward all the way from Peces to downtown, traveling thru Salina Chica,
 #2 going southward turns left/east just before Salina Chica, leaving JM Ross & taking the Caribe Coastal road thru Meteorologico. I've heard it turns right/west back into the colonias by Madera Food & Art.


Now the company advises riding #3 to Sac Bajo and #4 to Punta Sur. 

Route 3 goes to Sac Bajo, down the western side of the isle on Medina.
(It was originally advertised as also going to Punta Sur. Then they said it only went to P.S. when that was the destination of passengers aboard, and otherwise after routing thru Sac Bajo it turned east on Paseo Peces & returned via the Caribbean Coastal road, Payo Obispo.)

Route 4 goes to Punta Sur & Garrafon down east side on the Caribbean Coastal road and returning northward on Medina to town.

This isn't a bus route map, it's a street map, showing how Jesus Martinez Ross follows the Caribbean coast until becoming the main street of Salina Chica and going on to La Gloria, while the Caribe Coastal road (aka Payo Obispo) follows the coast. The east-west transit, Paseo de los Peces, is shown, but not labeled, between colonia La Gloria and the Mundaca Hacienda. 

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