This article in Time magazine reports on how the global pandemic has ravaged tourist areas like Cancún, Mexico. The famous beach has seen a return of visitors, mainly from the US, since Mexico lifted travel restrictions in June, but tens of thousands remain unemployed, and without any government aid, those that are employed—many of whom have colleagues or family who succumbed to the virus—continue to work in fear. Photographs were taken by Magnum Foundation grantee Claudia Guadarrama.
Sitting on the soft white sand of the world-famous beach in Cancún, Mexico, the turquoise water lapping lazily at your feet as tourists jog maskless along the shore, you can almost imagine that the coronavirus pandemic never happened.
In the evening, masked waitresses in colorful, frilly dresses balance bottles of tequila on their heads and perform to “Baby Shark” at a tacky restaurant in Cancún’s nightlife district. With the lights of the Coco Bongo disco illuminating the night sky, tourists dance in open-air clubs while acrobats twirl above them, raining glitter down on a packed and maskless crowd.
But behind the pulsing music and pristine beaches lies an ominous reality. COVID-19 has infected some 16,000 people in the state of Quintana Roo, which includes Cancún, claiming over 2,000 lives. Limited testing means actual numbers are likely far higher. And even as tourists begin flooding in, often escaping a raging pandemic back home, COVID-19 remains a crippling crisis for the waiters, housekeepers, chauffeurs and others here who depend on tourism, with many losing their jobs, their family or even their lives because of the deadly disease.