I am writing from Mexico City, Mexico where Kim and I are living during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mexico City is big. It’s the 5th largest city in the world with close to 22 million people. My advice during a pandemic is, “Don’t go where there are so many people.”
We came here because it is safer than where we were. We also love Mexico City. It’s truly one of the great cities of the world.
It’s Safer In Mexico City Than In The United States
We came here because it’s safer than where we were in Arizona and California. The Mexican government has taken action to protect its people. This is multiplied by the people taking action to protect each other.
This is what it is like living during Covid-19 in Mexico City.
Every Coffee Shop, Store, Restaurant, Mall, Gym, Apartment Building: Everywhere!
I like to work in coffee shops. The coffee is better, I can practice the language (Spanish, obviously, here in Mexico City) and I’m more productive. The distractions I have at home, the dishes, the drone, reading a new book, which I use to procrastinate, are out of sight and mind.
I feel safe at the coffee houses in Mexico City. The staff is always masked. Customers wear masks except when drinking or eating.
I’m not too concerned when customers are unmasked as every other table is blocked off. This creates more than the recommended 1.5 meters (6 feet) between people. In most coffee houses and restaurants, the distance between tables is closer to 3 meters (10 feet).
In “my” coffee shop the waiter wipes down the table with antiseptic after I sit down. The staff also wipes the tables after people depart. Maybe this is a bit much but it makes me feel safer.
Before Entering: The Mystery Mat
Before entering, Everyone must step on a mat soaked in antiseptic to sterilize the soles of their shoes. I have no idea what the purpose is. Do people put their feet on the table or touch the bottom of their shoes just before eating? These antiseptic mats are at the entrance of every store, restaurant, mall, gym, apartment building, everywhere. These mats must have a purpose
Once past the mat, my hands are doused with an enormous amount of hand sanitizer generously doled out by the waiter. He also takes my temperature. This is done when passing through any public entrance.
The chances of contracting Covid-19 while living in Mexico City will never be zero. But, it’s very close to zero under these conditions.
Walking In Downtown Mexico City During Covid 19
Kim and I enjoy and do a great deal of walking. Downtown Mexico City is crowded but given the precautions, we feel safe. If you are familiar with downtown Mexico City you know there are many walking streets.
To keep people safe, the walking streets have been divided into one-way lanes with ropes and traffic barriers. People follow the flow. This keeps everyone from bumping into each other or bunching up when walking around oncoming pedestrians. It’s really efficient.
On the walking street, before crosswalks, tape marks intervals at every 1.5 meters. People wait on the marks for the light to turn green. They don’t cluster, jostle, or squeeze too close.
While pedestrians are queueing for the light, workers walk the line offering hand sanitizer. It’s not obligatory to take the hand sanitizer (as it is before entering a building) but most people do.
Of course, this is different than when we stayed in Mexico City two years ago. This is the new normal living with Covid 19 in Mexico City.
The main reason we are comfortable walking in downtown Mexico City is that 99% of the people wear a mask.
People wear them correctly:
- Noses covered
- Strapped under the chin
- Secured on both ears
We use public transit when not walking. Knowing that the Mexico City subway system moves 1.655 billion people (that’s billion with a ‘B’) a year, we were more than a little anxious. We were happily surprised.
The first sign of encouragement came from a sign.
The Sistema de Transporte Colectivo signage reminds people to wear a mask and distance. The signs and posters demonstrate the correct and incorrect ways to wear a mask. Other signs have slogans about collective responsibility.
Everyone, without exception, wore a mask. We never saw anyone without a mask in the Mexico City subway system.
On the platform, to keep people distanced, permanent markers have been applied. In the carriages, the fans are on full force. Windows are fully opened. When the train is in motion there is more air circulating than when walking outside.
Sadly, many public places are closed in Mexico City. The National Palace which houses Diego Rivera’s grand mural is closed as is the Templo Mayor, one of the most important archaeological sites in the world.
The Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes is open. However, the arrangement is not ideal but management has found a way to safely open.
To enter, you must step on the ubiquitous antiseptic mat, have your hands smothered in sanitizer, and pass a temperature check. The Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes also sprays your entire body, front and back, with an antiseptic.
Once inside, movement is strictly controlled. Tape on the floor indicates where one must stand. At the gallery door, more hand sanitizer is gooped on.
All this is fine. These procedures are standard in Mexico City. Once in the gallery, however, the system is less than optimal.
In the gallery, movement is more strictly controlled than in the entrance and halls. Again, marks on the floor indicate where to stand.
Herein lies the problem. You are required to stand on the mark and someone is standing on a mark in front and in back of you. You are trapped. You cannot move from the painting in front of you until the person in front of you moves to the next mark.
It’s like riding on a halting conveyer belt.
As ridiculous as this system is, it is better than closing the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes. I wish they would do this in the National Palace and Templo Mayor so they could be opened.
The Best Medical Care
What if we contract Covid-19 while we are living in Mexico City? Mexico has medical facilities on par with the United States. Most Mexican doctors are trained in the U.S. or Europe. Equally important is that medical care is available to everyone. I am insured through Safety Wing. Safety Wing is a Norwegian company designed specifically to provide medical insurance in almost every country. The coverage includes Covid-19.
Living In Mexico City Amidst Covid 19
Living in Mexico City during Covid 19 requires some adjustment. But these are minor changes that you quickly become accustomed to:
- Wear a mask all the time you are out
- Be prepared for over-sanitized hands
- Step on the mat
- Have your temperature taken often
- Walk in the correct lane
- Stand on the mark
- Stay distanced
These minor changes save lives. Mexico gets it. Be safe. Come join us!