El Cuyo in Quarantine
The sleepy fishing village of El Cuyo, Yucatan, Mexico, is now quarantined until 20th April 2020 to protect residents from the threat of Coronavirus.
The decision was taken by the townspeople, local businesses and authorities in a meeting attended by the Tizimin governing authorities on 18th March 2020.
A road block was set up on the morning of 19th March 2020.
No visitors can enter the port, regardless of their nationality. Tourists hoping to pass their ‘social distancing’ period at the beach have been turned away at the entrance.
Buses are being stopped and searched on arrival and non-residents are turned around and sent back on the same bus.
¿Por qué? Why quarantine El Cuyo?
The reason for this seemingly drastic decision (there were around 100 Coronovirus cases across the whole of Mexico when the decision was made) is to protect the people of this vulnerable and remote community. El Cuyo is situated 99km from the nearest hospital. The town has hundreds of boats, but there’s no taxi and very few residents have cars. For the vast majority of the 2000 strong community, getting to a hospital will be extremely problematic. Lack of health cover in most households will make things even more difficult.
The town relies heavily on tourism, which has grown significantly over the last couple of years so this decision was not taken lightly. The majority of households and all businesses will struggle to make ends meet. However, due to the fragility of the town and the stealth at which Coronavirus spreads, an outbreak here would be devastating.
The town is sorry for disruption to travel plans. We truly hope you understand and can support us in this.
TIMELINE & UPDATES
For insights, photos and videos – please see instagram posts, stories and highlights
15th March 2020
Suspension of the “Festival de la Veda” scheduled for the weekend of 20th March.
17th March 2020
Schools close. Population of El Cuyo, visitors and residents alike are asked to stay indoors and not gather together.
Youngsters congregating at the basketball court are asked by the police to go home.
‘Not Gathering’ is difficult to grasp and harder to enforce in a population where families live together in groups. My neighbours have 10 people spanning 4 generations living under one roof.
A meeting is held between local businesses, the Comisario and the Tizimin government representatives – Alcalde Mario Gonzalez Gonzalez and Regidor Reyes Aguiñaga Medina. The attendees reject the offer from Tizimin to give the police ‘fever detectors’ (as the incubation period may mean Coronavirus carriers slip through the net), and decide instead to be quarantined immediately.
18th March 2020
A road block is installed.
El Diario de Yucatan publishes false information stating that El Cuyo is not in quarantine and that 300 Europeans are stranded here…if that were the case, it’d be high season!! There are probably about 10-20 tourists in town, most of whom have decided it’s a good place to “sit it out”, or who are just waiting for their flight home.
Most restaurants and cafes have changed their mode of working to ‘para llevar’. La Conchita, Miramar, Naia, Casa Palma, Valerios, Mochiart and LunArena are all now functioning on this basis (hours and contact numbers available on instagram stories). https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/17879823949540902/?hl=es-la
El Chile Gordo and Casa Cuyo restaurants have closed temporarily.
The pizzeria, Willy’s and Lupita’s continue with their normal service (includes takeaway service plus some seating). El Tiburon restaurant has service as normal.
19th March 2020
There is no panic buying.
In a poor community, bulk buying is not an option.
Most shops continue to function as normal – although some have placed counters at the entrances so customers ask for what they need rather than serving themselves. This is to avoid unnecessary touching and potential contamination of products. (Please note that the biggest shop here is the size of a regular OXXO type corner shop – there is no supermarket).
21st March 2020
The townsfolk who had been “assisting” the town’s police in their road block have been sent back to their homes due to their over zealousness (DHL and food suppliers had been refused entry to the town). The police are now manning the road block by themselves… Fingers crossed they can rise to the occasion.
23rd March 2020
Mauricia Vila – Gobernador de Yucatán – stated this evening in an address to the population, that in the coming days extreme measures will be put in place to halt the spread of Coronavirus.
Tizimin authorities publish in Facebook that they will no longer let tourists enter the town, regardless of nationality.