The state of Baja California returns to tier-4 restrictions with the shutdown of all non-essential businesses.
Baja California Increases Covid-19 Measures as Infection Rate Rises
The Mexican state of Baja California has gone back to red alert as part of the ongoing efforts to curb the spread of the Covid-19 disease. As a result, the casinos in the capital city Mexicali had to close their doors on Wednesday for an indefinite period of time. The gambling establishments reopened when officials reclassified the state to orange level, but now they have to cease operations once again due to the increasing number of cases in the Mexican state.
The Mexican government has introduced a four-tier, color-coded system starting from the lowest risk (green) level to the highest risk (red) level, which allows authorities to keep track of the infection rate at state level and implement restrictions locally. Red level means that only essential businesses are permitted to function.
The mayor of Mexicali, Marina del Pilar Ávila Olmeda, said the decision was coordinated with the health authorities, the municipal government, the Ministry of Economy and the State Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks (Coepris). In October, the mayor tested positive for coronavirus.
The mayor added that different authorities will be in charge of monitoring gaming halls to ensure that all protocols are met and that the establishments remain closed. Mexicali casinos were operating 24/7 before the closure order entered in force. According to the head of the State Secretary of Sustainable Economy and Tourism (SEST), Mario Escobedo Carignan, casinos in the state were allowed to operate due to economic reasons, since employees were out of work for three months. Casinos provide direct employment to 6,000 people in the state and in the tourism sector the strong income comes from tips rather than wages, Carignan adds.
President López Obrador Orders In-Depth Investigation into Casino Licenses
Mexico’s casino industry is a powerful economic driver, but apart from suffering restrictions due to the pandemic, in September, the industry was practically put on hold. The country’s President Manuel López Obrador ordered an inquiry into casino licenses and suspended the awarding of new licenses due to concerns for regulatory infringements under former President Vicente Fox.
Mexico is famous for having a large, although confusing set of gambling regulations in place. Currently, there are approximately 300 casinos across the country and new venues are constantly popping up, but it seems that the government has decided to halt the expansion of the sector.
In October, President López Obrador announced that the licenses granted to two operators in September will be revoked. The Secretariat of the Interior granted a new license to Wadcor for 12 years allowing it to open up to 10 establishments. The second license was given to Mexico-based True Win Group.