Hundreds of restaurants in Mexico's capital reopened Monday in defiance of the city ban on non-essential activities meant to tackle a surge in coronavirus cases.
Restaurateurs in Mexico City warned that they faced a stark choice -- flout the suspension order or risk going out of business.
"We're so desperate that we're opening, because if not -- the option they gave us is death," said Giulliano Lopresti, owner of the Quebracho restaurant in the Cuauhtemoc district.
He said the move was not "an act of rebellion" but a cry for help.
In total, more than 500 restaurants were thought to have defied the shutdown order.
Quebracho reopened with around a quarter of its seats available to enable social distancing, along with the usual sanitary measures such as temperature checks for customers and face masks and shields for staff.
Other restaurants on the same street also decided to welcome diners.
For many of them, the home delivery service they are allowed to carry out is not enough to cover their costs.
At the Italian restaurant Attenti, manager Velino de la Cruz said business was 10 percent of its previous level, with seating only available on the terrace, but that the reopening had nevertheless boosted morale.
Mexico's official Covid-19 death toll, the fourth highest in the world, now stands at around 134,000, with more than 1.5 million cases registered.
On Friday, authorities scrapped plans to reopen non-essential activities in the capital, prolonging a ban that took effect on December 18.
Hospitals in the city are struggling to copy with an influx of patients following the Christmas and New Year holidays when families typically gather.
Mexico City, Mexico | AFP