A favorite vacation spot for Arizonans has reopened after being closed to tourists for three months as a way to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Puerto Peñasco, also known as Rocky Point or Arizona’s Beach for its proximity to our state, is now welcoming tourists, but with many restrictions.
“All we ask our visitors is to get informed before they come down, have a reservation otherwise you won’t be able to get into town and once you’re here, follow the protocols and you should be okay,” said Ernesto “Kiko” Munro, Mayor of Rocky Point.
Some residents like David Aguirre say reopening the city to tourism may be too soon, especially to tourists from Arizona.
“Get checked before you come. We don’t need any viruses here,” stated Aguirre, who moved to Rocky Point from Phoenix a year ago.
Aguirre says he has mixed feelings about the reopening of the city. He knows the economy relies on tourism. At the same, he fears how an influx of visitors could impact his health.
“We don’t have the capacity if we were to have a whole bunch of people at the emergency room. There’s no place for us to be at,” said Aguirre.
Aguirre has diabetes. His health condition makes him more vulnerable to coronavirus.
He says he worries about opening up his hometown to Arizonans when our state faces one of the worst spikes of COVID-19 in the country.
Mayor Munro says he has heard that brought up multiple times by members of the community, “There’s people saying ‘How come you’re letting people come into town when Arizona has a large outbreak?’ I don’t presume people who are sick are going to come on vacation.”
The city has put in place mandatory safety measures that will deter you from entering the city if you show any symptoms.
“I have a thermal camera to detect it,” said Munro.
The city has set up a sanitation tunnel and a checkpoint where all visitors need to get their temperature checked from inside their vehicles.
“If we see an abnormality, you will be asked to go through a second screening. They have digital thermometers,” says Munro.
If you continue showing a fever, you will be asked to take a rapid COVID-19 test.
“If you’re willing to take it and test positive, you will be asked to return to your hometown,” said Munro.
If you make it past the checkpoint, be ready to follow stricter guidelines than Arizona.
There’s a 10 p.m. curfew, and bars and nightclubs remain closed.
“Because they generate large groups of people,” says Munro.
Tourists are also required to social distance and wear a face mask in public spaces.
At the moment, the beach is not entirely open either.
“You can use the beach area for the hotels or resorts, but not go into the ocean water,” says Munro.
Still, he says, Rocky Point has many other activities to enjoy safely,
“You can go to the mountain, you can ride an ATV, sport fish, parasailing.”
Munro also says it's important for visitors to remember that these restrictions are different if you own a home in Las Conchas and the Cholla Bay area.
“It’s a phase activation plan. We had a second phase where we allowed residents to come in, but they had to sign a commitment to quarantine for 14 days, and we monitored them with the help of the police department. We estimate to begin a fifth phase around July 15, if the epidemic measures allow it, we will start allowing homeowners from La Cholla and Las Conchas,” said Munro.
Munro says it’s difficult at this moment to have police officers to monitor if homeowners are following the quarantine commitment in private areas like Las Conchas and Cholla Bay.
Munro says he knows a visit to Rocky Point may not be your traditional beach vacation right now, but they want to make sure to keep everyone safe and healthy.
As of today, Puerto Peñasco reports only 13 confirmed cases and one death due to coronavirus.