San Miguel's thumping response to the Coronavirus pandemic now awaits enforcement

Pardon my cynicism, but I half expected city officials in San Miguel de Allende to remain silent or lapse into denial with respect to the Coronavirus pandemic that has shut down much of the United States and several European countries. National and international tourism is practically the town’s only business, so the city is, understandably, loath to take any action that adversely affects that.

Instead, the city issued the following ukase—in both English and Spanish to be sure everyone got the memo—that pretty much locks down San Miguel until further notice. Dramatically, bells pealed last night at 6:30 to announce churches would remain closed except for special circumstances, which I imagine would be funerals.

Even more stunning, the mammoth Good Friday procession has been cancelled. That event, probably the biggest in the city’s religious-tourist calendar, had been cancelled by the bishop of Celaya, who has jurisdiction over San Miguel.

Big hotels and restaurants will no doubt survive the lockdown, but I worry about the vast collateral damage: waiters, taco stands, maids and other service people, sellers of souvenirs and tchotchkes—and on down the line.

The response to the pandemic by the federal government of Mexico has been timorous, no doubt also because of fears that bad news will shut down the tourist industry countrywide.  I suspect, though, that the move by most feeder countries, such as the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom, to close down international travel, may have effectively done that already.

Drops in the price of oil worldwide already have punched Mexico in the gut.

Now we have to see how scrupulously the city will enforce its own regulations. Mexico has a long history of passing impressive laws to ban this, that and the next thing, that are only feebly enforced, if at all.

Supposedly there have been no confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in San Miguel, but given that there are no testing kits available, who knows how many asymptomatic, contaminated people may be walking around. And when sick people start showing up, I’m not sure that the local hospitals will have the expertise or wherewithal to deal with them.

For now, all we can do is stay confined to our homes, except for quickie trips to the grocery store. Hope this doesn’t go for much longer.

(Text of the city’s decree follows these three photos of the city’s deserted Centro, sent to me by Fred York.)

The Jardin, the town’s usually bustling main square. 

The plaza in front of San Miguel’s main church. 

The shuttered crafts and souvenir market. 
Information from the City of San Miguel de Allende

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