Businesses reopen in Mexico

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

LISA MULLINS: One of the restaurants in Mexico City that has reopened today is called Cafe Tacuba. It's a well-known eatery in the city's historic center. It's also a big place � it has a staff of 100, and it attracts locals and tourists both. It's been closed for more than a week now because of the swine flu outbreak. When it did close, we spoke briefly with Cafe Tacuba's manager, Jose Munez. And we decided to check in with him again today. Thank you very much, first off, for speaking with us.

JOSE MUNEZ: On the contrary � thank you for calling me and reaching out to us in Mexico.

MULLINS: Well, we're more than happy to. And that was, by the way, The World's William Troop who is going to be interpreting for us today. William, thank you. Mr. Munez, tell us what's been happening in your restaurant today. Are you operating at 100 percent now?

MUNEZ: Today, we are starting to operate again according to all the rules that the government has handed down to us since we re-opened the restaurant, and that means we have to operate at 50 percent of our capacity. And the number of people coming in have been okay. I'm not going to say it's been great, but it's been okay. People are starting to come back. They're starting to lose their fear and daring to come back and go out to eat at a restaurant.

MULLINS: When you mentioned, Mr. Munez, that you have to operate under some strict rules handed down by the government, what are they?

MUNEZ: As I mentioned before, one of the first rules is a 50 percent capacity for the restaurant. So that means for us, we have 48 tables out in the dining room, so I took half of the tables away and now I have only 24. And that allows me to have a certain amount of space between tables, which is part of the rules that the government is mandating. Another rule is that we have to have anti-bacterial gel available for clients to wash their hands as they come into the restaurant. Another rule is that we can't have any utensils on the table at all when the clients arrive at the table. Everything has to be brought out later � forks, knives, napkins � everything has to be put on the table once the clients have sat down. After they eat, we have to take everything off the table and clean everything � salt shakers, put new utensils, provide new utensils, clean the tablecloths � everything can only be used once. And finally, for us, we have a rule that every 15 minutes, every member of the staff has to wash his or her hands.

MULLINS: I understand also that the staff has to dress differently from the way they usually would?

MUNEZ: All the members of staff have to wear masks. They have to wear robes and hairnets and latex gloves.

MULLINS: Well, the latex gloves and the face masks must turn some customers off. Does it?

MUNEZ: So far, we haven't received any complaints about the face masks or the latex gloves, although you know, this is the first day that we're using the latex gloves so we'll see. But the face masks, they have been seen so much around Mexico City in recent days that I don't think people are fazed by that at all. But we have been told that we have to change the masks two or three times a day because we shouldn't wear each mask more than 3 hours.

MULLINS: Do you serve pork?

MUNEZ: Yeah, we serve some pork dishes, and we're still serving them now. But, you know, a lot of people here know that you can't get the virus from eating pork so I don't really think it's a big deal.
MULLINS: Jose Munez is the manager of Cafe Tacuba, a popular restaurant in the historic center of Mexico City. The cafe is re-opening this evening after being closed for a week because of the swine flu. Senor Munez, thank you very much.

MUNEZ: No, I have to thank you very much. And like I said at the beginning, I want to thank you for reaching out to us in Mexico. We are very worried here in Mexico that all this news is going to be causing people not to come and visit our country, and we don't like that. We want to show that our country is back on its feet, and it's taken all these measures to make sure that this outbreak is over. And also especially at this time, when there have been all these incidents � racist incidents against Mexicans around the world, you know, what we want to present is a clean, positive image of our country. So thank you very much.

MULLINS: By the way, Jose Munez, speaking there, told us about another rule his staff has to follow at the restaurant. They can't wear neckties. And they're not the only ones going without neck-wear right now. In fact, all Mexicans are being advised to follow suit. Today, the website of the �Universal� newspaper advised its readers that ties can act as a reservoir for micro-organisms.