According to Reuters, Mexican authorities have called on cemeteries to close to the public ahead of the November 1-2 celebration, in an attempt to curb the spread of Covid-19. Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is a celebratory and colorful holiday during which families spend the night at the graves of their loved ones, believing that the spirits of their dead relatives return to visit those they left behind.
The annual festivities typically draw hundreds of thousands of people to cemeteries and public plazas, which could become “areas of high risk for contagion,” according to Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell. He said that “the recommendation is to avoid crowds” in an attempt to fend off another wave of infections.
Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum has also said that she will close the city’s cemeteries for this year’s Day of the Dead celebrations. She recommended that gatherings be limited to no more than 10 people.
Additionally, the Mexican government has canceled a Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City, which typically draws tens of thousands of people to the capital. The event will instead be held virtually.
Even after Day of the Dead is over, however, Mr Lopez-Gatell warned about another “high-risk opportunity” for infections on the horizon: the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe on December 3, during which upwards of 3 million people gather in Mexico City to honor the country’s patron saint. Authorities worry that the combination of the impending holiday season and colder weather could lean to an uptick in coronavirus cases.
The pleas from Mexican authorities come as the country is grappling with a surge of Covid hospitalizations. As of Monday, the country had tallied over 891,000 infections and more than 88,000 deaths — though health officials have said those numbers are believed to be widely undercounted. According to CNN, Mexico is fourth on the global list of coronavirus fatalities, behind only the US, Brazil, and India.