SAN LUIS RIO COLORADO, Son. – Now that the lockdown has been lifted, El Golfo de Santa Clara is waiting for tourists to come back to its beaches.

But not all of them all at once – just enough to help the community on the northern tip of the Sea of Cortes rebound from the economic double-whammy of declining fishing and the COVID-19 pandemic.

But what tourism and El Golfo officials want to avoid is having visitors pack the beaches in large crowds that could promote the spread of the virus.

El Golfo was closed to tourists earlier this year as part of measures by the state of Sonora to contain the coronavirus. The lockdown dealt an economic blow to the community that was already hurting from restrictions placed by the government on commercial fishing, traditionally El Golfo’s economic mainstay.

Last month, Mexico’s health ministry determined that state had slowed the coronavirus spread enough to allow cities to reopen nonessential sectors of the economy with restrictions. San Luis Rio Colorado, which has municipal jurisdiction over El Golfo, permitted the reopening of the beaches along with restaurants, bars, gyms and other businesses.

“Now the community of El Golfo has a better outlook,” said Adan Gonzalez, El Golfo’s municipal delegate.

Under the guidelines established by the health ministry, El Golfo can host visitors in gatherings at up to 25% of the size of crowds typically seen there.

Gonzalez said El Golfo got an economic shot in the arm the weekend of July 23 in what was its inaugural reopening following the lockdown.

As part of new restrictions, he said, visitors are stopped at the approach to El Golfo at a “sanitary filter,” where their temperatures are taken and they are reminded to use face masks and practice social distancing. He said the filter will remain in place indefinitely.

“The businesses in the community are adhering to the health precautions,” Gonzalez said. “They received (the guidelines) from the city public health department and are following the measures. Tourism is very important to the community.”

He appealed to tourists to limit visits and, when they do come, to practice social distancing.

“The time will come when we can invite everyone to visit us, but for now we continue recommending that they remain at home and not overrun the town or the beaches, for their own protection and that of the community.”

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