Mexico City Restaurants Plan to Reopen in Defiance of Lockdown

Hundreds of restaurants in Mexico City were set to welcome back diners on Monday, defying the capital’s Covid-19 restrictions in an online campaign titled “We Open or We Die.”

Popular chains like Sonora Grill and Fisher’s said they’ll do a better job of keeping customers safe than the informal street stands and markets that have been allowed to operate under the lockdown.

In a separate campaign, 500 restaurateurs including Alsea SAB, operator of chains like Chili’s and P.F. Chang’s, signed a letter to MayorClaudia Sheinbaum saying the restrictions have been unfair to formal eateries, which are getting almost no tax breaks.

The letter asks Sheinbaum to designate restaurants as an essential activity, a move that would allow them to open during the city’s code-red alert, the highest for Covid-19 in Mexico. Sheinbaum declared the red alert Dec. 18 as cases and hospitalizations soared. The restrictions were set to last until Jan. 10, but the government extended it last week and has not yet set an end date.

“This is a slow and painful death,” the group said in the letter. “Restaurants have gone through their savings. We’re in water up to our necks because we have to keep paying taxes, licenses and services.”

The government has said the same restrictions against dining-in apply to both formal and informal food establishments, but people can be seen eating at food stands around the capital. Last week, Sheinbaum also announced some payroll taxes will be forgiven in order to help struggling businesses, but warned those who don’t comply with restrictions will be subject to fines.

In addition to rising cases, hospitals across the city are 92% full, dangerously close to reaching capacity, according to Sunday data.

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