COVID-19 Testing Requirement for Air Travel to USA: 16 January 2021

Effective January 26, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will require all air passengers entering the United States (including U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents) to present a negative viral COVID-19 test, taken within three calendar days of departure, or proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days.  Airlines must confirm the negative test result or proof of recent recovery for all passengers prior to boarding and must deny boarding of passengers who do not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery.  Please see CDC’s FAQ and the Embassy’s COVID-19 webpage for more information about the new requirement.

If you are planning to return to the United States, you should contact your airline for specific information about testing requirements for travelers.  Because airlines may adopt and modify their own specific policies to implement CDC’s new rule, you should contact the carrier for your U.S.-bound flight and not rely on information from other carriers or information or experience from previous trips.

21 October 2020 Newsletter

Welcome to our first 2020 Snowbird Season edition of Beach Area News!

Like everything this year, this season will be different.  Many of you up north may not be coming down for the winter, while others may find escaping the confined spaces that cold weather brings makes our warm climate more attractive than ever.  If you’re still trying to make that decision, or if you are already making your plans to come down and join us, this issue of Beach Area News is for you.

CURRENT COVID STATUS

As of this date, Yucatan is at the ORANGE level in Mexico’s 4-color “traffic light” system.  Orange means “non-essential” businesses (including some restaurants) are open with  very limited capacity, masks are REQUIRED in public spaces, and the ongoing need for social distancing (‘sana distancia”) and washing/sanitizing your hands continues. Cultural events are being permitted with tight controls and limited attendance. ALL large public events (such as Dia de Muertos/Hanal Pixan) are cancelled and large gatherings are prohibited.  Overall, do not expect the same culturally-vibrant scene this year.

At this moment in mid October, the private and public hospital systems are not at capacity. Certainly the nationwide closure of schools is helping to hold the numbers down, but the gradual reopening of Yucatan’s economy could bring them back up again.

Some tourism venues like Maya ruins, museums and cenotes are open with limited hours and daily limits on visitors.  Alcohol retail sales are permitted with limited hours.

ANY of these permissions or restrictions could be changed at any time by the State government if conditions permit.  International travel restrictions–implemented by Mexico or your home country–could change anytime.  Your airline might also make last-minute changes; check with them frequently as your trip approaches.

(If you are planning to drive to Mexico, note that “non-essential” cross-border travel is closed until at least November 21. A good article appears here:  https://www.mexperience.com/mexico-land-border-restrictions-closure-covid-19/ )

An excellent source for current status information on Covid-19, business hours of operation, restaurant operating hours, and other pertinent information is the MID CityBeat Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/midcitybeat.  If you follow the Yucatan Beach Friends FB group, you see the postings there.  MID CityBeat bypasses the rumor mill and goes directly to government sources to get correct, current information.

CONSULAR AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES

The Canadian Consulate in Quintana Roo is providing limited services. The US Consulate in Merida informed us this week “Please note we are slowly adding routine appointments in Merida.”  Checking the Consulate Website shows that all Merida appointments in November are filled; check for cancellations.  December appointments will be opened in mid-November.  The Consulate always holds some slots open for emergencies.  Note that each applicant requires their own appointment, and all visitors to the consulate age two and older must wear a mask.

The Mexican Immigration offices are also running with minimal staff and very few services are offered.  Be sure that all your travel/immigration documents are current before you leave home!  Remember that your passport must be valid for six months after your entry date or you will not be allowed into Mexico.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN  YOU ARRIVE

First of all, remember that the storm season officially runs through November 30.  Check the National Hurricane Center Website http://hurricanes.gov every few days to see what’s going on out in the Atlantic.  A hurricane like Delta (which missed our immediate area, but not by much) could do massive damage.  Hopefully, we’ll continue the luck of the past 18 years since Hurricane Isidora came through.

Some of the beaches in our area experienced considerable beach erosion from Delta, and some were covered with tons of seaweed.  There has been a lot of cleanup in some areas, but you may find some of your favorite beach spaces are not the same as last year.  Watch the FB groups for photos, or ask a friend in your beach neighborhood how your beach looksThere is a photo down at the bottom of this Newsletter that shows one area of beach in eastern Progreso on October 17–scroll down.

Chelem and Churburna remain in a cleanup mode. An important change in garbage handling since last year: all Public Dumps have been closed. Consult our website BeachAreanews.com for current information on Trash/Garbage pickup by Prolimpia.

Storm possibilities aside, Progreso has been significantly cleaned up by the Ayuntamiento de Progreso.  You’ll find many streets repaved and big improvements in Centro, especially the north end of Calle 80 from the Mercado to the Malecon.  But things are much quieter due to the restrictions on businesses.

Again, MASKS ARE REQUIRED BY LAW IN PUBLIC SPACES.  Although you’re going to see some people without them, our expat community generally tries to set a good example.

Mexico does not require two weeks of self-isolation upon arrival.  But given the infection risk involved in any international travel, you should plan to take your first 14 days to just enjoy your beach area home.  Many area restaurants run delivery services, and there are folks who will do grocery shopping for you as well.  The rule QUEDATE IN CASA! (Stay at Home!) applies double when you just got off a plane.

HEALTH CARE

IMPORTANT:  Besides having COVID around, we are also approaching FLU season.  Dra. Fany Lucia Rubio Losa of Merida Health Travel advised us recently that the flu vaccine may be in short supply (and of questionable quality) in Mexico. 
If you want to get a flu vaccine this winter, do it before you leave home. 

Make sure your health insurance covers COVID.  (For that matter, make sure it covers you outside your home country!)  We are aware of three Yucatan companies who provide different healthcare-related services to foreigners:

THE GOOD NEWS

The weather is moving out of the summer humidity and into the winter season that we all love.  Our local Progreseños are still warm and friendly, even though it’s a bit harder for them to express it.  The Gulf waters are the same emerald green as before.  Get your flu shot, pack your masks, and come on down!

MAILING LIST POLICY NOTE:
Every issue of Beach Area News has an Unsubscribe link at the bottom, which will instantly take you off our list.  Please know that if you do this, Mailchimp’s robust spam control policies prevent us from adding you back using that same address.  If you change your mind later, you can easily send us a different address to use. OR write to us and we will send you a special “sign up yourself” URL.  (We do not make that public to keep US from being spammed!)

Look forward to seeing your smiling faces this winter.  Safe Travels to all.
The Beach Area News Team
Bob Rentz, Speranza Avram, Karen Cloutier, Dave Bloch

 

ProLimpia Brochure Translation 3 Sept 2020

Below is a ROUGH translation of the Spanish-language brochure many have received regarding trash.   A couple of  important points:

  • The landfill mentioned is NOT for residents.  It is for construction waste and is not in Chelem, Chuburna, Chicxlub, Uaymitum or any location you may recognize.
  • The brochure mentions keeping your account up to date.   Registering and paying your fees at discounted rates is about to end.  2021 Budgets are in the works.  Make sure you get the discounted rates.
  • Calling the Ecology Police when you see something that is just wrong, continues to be a priority.–BeachAreaNews team

BEGIN TRANSLATION OF PROLIMPIA BROCHURE:

The Progreso City Council, by changing the Prolimpia address, invites you to familiarize yourself with your garbage collection service.

Since November 1, The Prolimpia company has been the only authorized management of solid household waste in the municipality of Progreso and its commasarios leading to the following actions:

  • Implementation of routes and schedules for each area of the ports and its commasarios.
  • Maintenance and pickup at established points for—Chelem-Chuburna.
  • Maintenance and pick up at established points for-Chicxlub-Uaymitun.
  • Sanitation of the Landfill and construction of the new Landfill. [This location is not for residents, but for Construction waste and involves a fee to use]
  • Special pickup service for large waste and mass CleanupsWith these and more actions we seek to mark a change to have a worthy and clean Progreso.  Your participation as a user is indispensable for the system to be sustainable. Help us:
  • Keep your service up to date.
  • Take out your garbage according to your route and schedule Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
  • Contact us to resolve your questions and concerns
  • Deliver your waste only to our collection units
  • Report pirate collectors who generate clandestine dump sites and damage the environment.

Currently we are carrying out a data update in our system.  We are currently using GPS for each Property, this in order to have more accurate information and that will be more effective and efficient, when we visit your property, this will allow:

  • Updating your property will make you aware of different promotions
  • Identification of the owner and/or occupant of the house
  • Provide phone notices for improvement of dealing of complaints and notices regarding service
  • E-Mail, providing a paperless system to make us more media friendly
  • If we visited you and you were not home, and you want to update your information, you can contact us making reference to Folio #_______ by any of these methods:

Or visit our offices located in the park on Calle 142 between Calles 31 and 33 in Progreso (near Yucalpeten).

We are at your service!  Let’s work together for the care of the environment.

27 August 2020 Trash Update

We owe a debt of gratitude to the management and Staff of ProLimpia.  They were presented a challenge and have responded exceptionally.  Make sure you thank them as you interact with them.

  • Service will return to normal days of pickup.
  • If you see areas littered such as Entradas, etc, you can report them via WhatApp message to Felipe Borges. 999-947-1071.
  • If you see dumping or anything just not right, call or text Ecology, 999-359-0369 on WhatsApp.  If you fail to receive a response, please advise us team@beachareanews.com .

Most important is the effort now to register individuals, assign the proper fees and pay those fees so that your service can continue.   These efforts are being extended to Visitors and Tourists.

  • Those individuals whom have a Prolimpia bill and paid for the entire year at the $200 Pesos per month,  can e-mail Yaremi Zarate  a copy of their bill, Visa, and Prolimpia account number: Yaremi.zarate@ayuntamientodeprogreso.gob.mx.   She will reduce your bill for September-December to $70 a month and apply any overpayment as a credit, which can be applied to 2021 fees due.  There will be not be a rebate or credit for the first 8 months of the year.
  • Those individuals who have not registered with Prolimpia and have a Water Bill, and have Permanent Resident Visas, will need to register, receive a Prolimpia bill/invoice and bring their account up to date. (A good example of how to do that is already posted by Lisa Dart Robertson on multiple sites).
  • Those with Temporary Resident Visas will need to register, and bring their account up to date.  They can have their fees reduced from the $200 fee to $100 pesos.  You will need the same documents as stated above. Predial must be for 2020.
  • Those individuals that do not have water Service from the City, either because it was never hooked up or you officially withdrew service, need to register.  You will need a CFE bill, Copies of your Visa and proof of payment of Predial 2020. Providing GPS coordinates of their location will be helpful. You will need to go to the office.   Lisa Dart Robertson has posted details of the process on multiple sites.
  • Landlords are responsible for paying fees.  Please advise your landlords of these requirements.  As an incentive, Landlords can receive the $100 fee.  If from Merida, a valid drivers license will serve as ID when paying the $100 fee.  If your landlord resides in the Progreso Municipality, the fee can be $70.  (If a Mexican, a copy of drivers license is acceptable.  If Foreign owner, a copy of their Visa is necessary).

All of these discounts are for a limited time.  Come mid September, and the discounts will no longer be available.

This program will remain a work in progress. Updates will be provided as needed.

There are other programs being developed to minimize the littering of the community.  Recycling, etc.  Stay tuned for that info.

Thanks to all in being part of the solution and keeping our community clean.

Chelem and Chicxulub: Getting Trash Pickup

You’ve all heard about this happening; here is what to do if your home has been bypassed by ProLimipia’s trucks up to now.

  1. Go out to the street and take a photo of your house.
  2. From that spot, open the Maps app on your phone.  Wait for the spot that shows your location to settle down to exactly where you are, then
  3. Touch and Hold your finger on that spot until the the red icon shows up. Continue holding until the latitude and longitude appear at the top of the screen.
    (On some devices, when the red icon appears, you must pull up the white bar from the bottom of the screen until you see the lat/long numbers.)
  4. Write those numbers down exactly as they appear.
  5. Send that information, along with your name, street address, and any other helpful information (like your entrada) to ProLimpia via WhatsApp: 999 362 6077.
  6. ProLimpia may send someone to your house to confirm the location.  They will send trucks this weekend for a special garbage pickup.

Voting in the USA November 3 Election

(This information is copied from our August 12 Newsletter.  It is correct, to the best of our knowledge, as of August 17 2020.)

All US citizens living overseas have the right to vote, yet historically only 1 in 10 citizens take advantage of this opportunity. More and more states are using electronic means to make registering and voting by absentee ballot easier than ever. Over the next few weeks, Beach Area News will provide updated information as we receive it to make sure that all US citizens living in our community who wish to are able to vote in the November 2020 election.  This is the general election for President and Congressional seats and may also include State-based candidates and initiatives.  After reading this Email, if you still have questions, the US Consulate in Merida has a special address for voting inquiries:  VoteMerida@state.gov

There are three basic steps to voting when you are overseas and the procedure and timeline vary by state. First, you must be registered to vote in the state in which you are voting. Second, you must request and receive your absentee ballot. Third, you must return your absentee ballot in time for it to be counted by your state’s election officials.

Step 1: Register to Vote

The first step in getting to vote overseas is to visit the Federal Voter Assistance Program www.fvap.gov and select the state in which you will be voting. All of the information that you need to register to vote is provided in detail for each state. Some states allow you to register on-line using the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), which enables you to register and request your absentee ballot at the same time. All states allow for an absentee ballot to be sent to you by email and you are strongly encouraged to select this option when you register through the FPCA.  If your state requires you to register by mail, Elizabeth Saviano in Chuburna has official paper registration forms for mailing, US postage pre-paid. Please contact her at ecsaviano@gmail.com  If you have not yet registered; do this as soon as possible.

Step 2: Receive your absentee ballot

States are required to send out absentee ballots to registered voters by September 19.  Some states will send absentee ballots to all voters, while others require voters to specifically request an absentee ballot before it will be sent to them.  If you registered on-line using the Federal Post Card Application, your request to receive an absentee ballot has already been submitted.  If you are unsure whether or not your state will automatically send you an absentee ballot, either by email or regular mail, visit the fvap.gov website and select your state to find out its rules.  We encourage you to confirm your state’s rules for receiving an absentee ballot as soon as possible and confirm that you have requested that your ballot be emailed to you, rather than sent by the Postal Service.

If you do not receive your ballot by September 19, here is what you can do:

  1. First, check your Spam folder; make sure the email with your ballot is not in there!
  2. Contact your state election office, found on the FVAP website, to determine if the ballot was sent and what steps to take next.  Perhaps the election office can arrange to email you a ballot. OR:
  3. Download the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) online starting at this page at FVAP.gov.  Depending on your state’s requirements, you can return the FWAB by email, fax, commercial carrier or mail.  OR:
  4. Contact a volunteer Voter Assistance Official (see below) to receive help getting your absentee ballot or receiving an official Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) in paper form. If needed, the FWAB  can be delivered to your door or can be picked up at various locations in Mérida and beach areas starting in September.

Step 3: Return your ballot ON TIME!

If your state allows you send your ballot via email or FAX to your election office, make sure you do that no later than their deadline time on November 3!

If you must send your paper ballot to your election office in the US, there are several resources available here in Yucatan to ensure that your ballot is returned to your state in time to be counted.

Option 1)  Drop off your absentee ballot to the US Consulate in Mérida by October 2. The US Consulate in Merida at Calle 60 #338K has a drop-box for election materials to be sent by mail. Registrations and ballots can be dropped off to the Consulate during normal business hours. They will be mailed in the diplomatic pouch once a week.  Voters must prepare the ballots envelope with either the postage pre-paid template or two first class US postage stamps (see more about postage below). DON’T FORGET TO SIGN THE BALLOT ENVELOPE IF REQUIRED –SOMETIMES THIS IS ON THE BACK OF THE ENVELOPE.  Make sure the Return Address is your Mexico one, not any US one that you use.  The envelope must be properly addressed to the Local Election Official, which can be found on the FVAP.gov website.

Option 2)  Work with local volunteer Voter Assistance Officials.  Several individuals affiliated with Democrats Abroad Mexico Yucatan have been certified as Voter Assistance Officials (VAOs) by the Federal Voting Assistance Program to officially help all voters regardless of party affiliation return their ballots on-time to the US. VAOs, even those affiliated with a political party, are required by law to perform their activities without regard to political party, and are also required by law to disclose that they are affiliated with a political party.  These regulations are detailed here: https://www.fvap.gov/vao/directives/organizations

VAOs in the Yucatan will help get ballots back to the US in time to be counted in the following ways:

  • Some VAOs will be traveling back to the United States before November 3 and will courier absentee ballots. There is a drop box in place at the Merida English Library and at the beach in a location to be determined. Again, ballot envelopes must be prepared with either the postage-prepaid template available with the ballot or the proper amount of US postage (2 first-class stamps) and properly addressed to the Local Election Official, and signed if required.
  • For people who cannot personally drop off their ballots at the Consulate in Merida, VAOs will collect ballots and bulk mail them by commercial carrier to the Embassy in Mexico City for inclusion in the diplomatic pouch.  This will happen at least once a week.  Voters can either drop off ballots at specified locations or request pick-up through the contact listed below.  (There will be more VOA’s available for ballot pickup in September.)
  • Before October 2, VAOs will bulk mail absentee ballots by commercial carrier to a trusted VAO in the US for mailing through the US Postal Service.

Option 3)  Send your ballot yourself. If you wish to send your own ballot back to your election office in the US, use a commercial carrier such as Federal Express, UPS or DHL.** Make sure you return your ballot in plenty of time to be received by the election office in your state. Voters are discouraged from using the Mexican postal service to mail back ballots.  **Added August 17: check with your state or local elections office to make sure they will accept a ballot delivered by a courier service.  There have been a few reports of offices refusing to do this.

About Postage-paid Election Mail and US Postage

Unless you are mailing your ballot directly to the election office using a commercial carrier, once your paper ballot reaches the United States, it must have sufficient postage affixed to it so it can be mailed to your state’s election office. This requires either two first-class US postage stamps or the printing of a free, postage paid envelope available from FVAP.  US citizens living abroad are authorized to use the free, postage-paid envelope that will ensure your ballot is mailed to the state election office once the ballot arrives in the US. Information on how to prepare and print this postage-paid envelope can be found here:

https://www.fvap.gov/eo/overview/sending-ballots/creating-envelopes

If needed, US postage stamps are available through VAOs at cost. Supplies are limited.

Contacting volunteer Voter Assistance Officers

Democrats Abroad is helping all voters, regardless of political party affiliation with voter registration and absentee ballot requests.  Every Sunday they will hold a virtual voter assistance event – visit their website for more information:  www.democratsabroad.com

Individual assistance can also be requested by sending an email to: info-mx-yucatan@democratsabroad.com

Finally, individuals in Yucatan can contact Elizabeth Saviano directly at ecsaviano@gmail.com

Please note that the Republicans Overseas organization is not providing any localized assistance in Yucatan.

12 August 2020 Newsletter

Where Have We Been?

Practicing ¡Quédate en casa! — Staying at home, as have so many of you.  We don’t know how many of our 799 subscribers are here at the beach and how many of you are reading this from your homes up north. There have been some pretty rough times since our last Newsletter sent on March 24. Information on all aspects of COVID-19 — its transmission, treatment, testing, numbers of cases, local government responses — have all changed often, and this newsletter and Website exist to capture information that stays current and can be referred to in the future.
At this moment, 12 August 2020, some aspects of the local situation are:

  • The federal government says Yucatán is in the red zone, but our governor says we’re orange and restrictions are set accordingly.
  • The school year will start August 24, and will be entirely done through distance learning.
  • The beaches remain officially closed as they have been since March.
  • The state is under its second implementation of the Ley Seca with sale of all alcoholic beverages prohibited until (as of 12 August 2020) September 17.

We have some very time-sensitive information for our readers who are US Citizens here in Yucatan and will not be back in the USA in time to vote in the November 3 election.  The rest of this Newsletter is devoted to information about that topic.


Voting in the USA November 3 Election

All US citizens living overseas have the right to vote, yet historically only 1 in 10 citizens take advantage of this opportunity. More and more states are using electronic means to make registering and voting by absentee ballot easier than ever. Over the next few weeks, Beach Area News will provide updated information as we receive it to make sure that all US citizens living in our community who wish to are able to vote in the November 2020 election.  This is the general election for President and Congressional seats and may also include State-based candidates and initiatives.  After reading this Email, if you still have questions, the US Consulate in Merida has a special address for voting inquiries:  VoteMerida@state.gov

There are three basic steps to voting when you are overseas and the procedure and timeline vary by state. First, you must be registered to vote in the state in which you are voting. Second, you must request and receive your absentee ballot. Third, you must return your absentee ballot in time for it to be counted by your state’s election officials.

Step 1: Register to Vote

The first step in getting to vote overseas is to visit the Federal Voter Assistance Program www.fvap.gov and select the state in which you will be voting. All of the information that you need to register to vote is provided in detail for each state. Some states allow you to register on-line using the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), which enables you to register and request your absentee ballot at the same time. All states allow for an absentee ballot to be sent to you by email and you are strongly encouraged to select this option when you register through the FPCA.  If your state requires you to register by mail, Elizabeth Saviano in Chuburna has official paper registration forms for mailing, US postage pre-paid. Please contact her at ecsaviano@gmail.com  If you have not yet registered; do this as soon as possible.

Step 2: Receive your absentee ballot

States are required to send out absentee ballots to registered voters by September 19.  Some states will send absentee ballots to all voters, while others require voters to specifically request an absentee ballot before it will be sent to them.  If you registered on-line using the Federal Post Card Application, your request to receive an absentee ballot has already been submitted.  If you are unsure whether or not your state will automatically send you an absentee ballot, either by email or regular mail, visit the fvap.gov website and select your state to find out its rules.  We encourage you to confirm your state’s rules for receiving an absentee ballot as soon as possible and confirm that you have requested that your ballot be emailed to you, rather than sent by the Postal Service.

If you do not receive your ballot by September 19, here is what you can do:

  1. First, check your Spam folder; make sure the email with your ballot is not in there!
  2. Contact your state election office, found on the FVAP website, to determine if the ballot was sent and what steps to take next.  Perhaps the election office can arrange to email you a ballot. OR:
  3. Download the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) online starting at this page at FVAP.gov.  Depending on your state’s requirements, you can return the FWAB by email, fax, commercial carrier or mail.  OR:
  4. Contact a volunteer Voter Assistance Official (see below) to receive help getting your absentee ballot or receiving an official Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) in paper form. If needed, the FWAB  can be delivered to your door or can be picked up at various locations in Mérida and beach areas starting in September.

Step 3: Return your ballot ON TIME!

If your state allows you send your ballot via email or FAX to your election office, make sure you do that no later than their deadline time on November 3!

If you must send your paper ballot to your election office in the US, there are several resources available here in Yucatan to ensure that your ballot is returned to your state in time to be counted.

Option 1)  Drop off your absentee ballot to the US Consulate in Mérida by October 2. The US Consulate in Merida at Calle 60 #338K has a drop-box for election materials to be sent by mail. Registrations and ballots can be dropped off to the Consulate during normal business hours. They will be mailed in the diplomatic pouch once a week.  Voters must prepare the ballots envelope with either the postage pre-paid template or two first class US postage stamps (see more about postage below). DON’T FORGET TO SIGN THE BALLOT ENVELOPE IF REQUIRED –SOMETIMES THIS IS ON THE BACK OF THE ENVELOPE.  Make sure the Return Address is your Mexico one, not any US one that you use.  The envelope must be properly addressed to the Local Election Official, which can be found on the FVAP.gov website.

Option 2)  Work with local volunteer Voter Assistance Officials.  Several individuals affiliated with Democrats Abroad Mexico Yucatan have been certified as Voter Assistance Officials (VAOs) by the Federal Voting Assistance Program to officially help all voters regardless of party affiliation return their ballots on-time to the US. VAOs, even those affiliated with a political party, are required by law to perform their activities without regard to political party, and are also required by law to disclose that they are affiliated with a political party.  These regulations are detailed here: https://www.fvap.gov/vao/directives/organizations

VAOs in the Yucatan will help get ballots back to the US in time to be counted in the following ways:

  • Some VAOs will be traveling back to the United States before November 3 and will courier absentee ballots. There is a drop box in place at the Merida English Library and at the beach in a location to be determined. Again, ballot envelopes must be prepared with either the postage-prepaid template available with the ballot or the proper amount of US postage (2 first-class stamps) and properly addressed to the Local Election Official, and signed if required.
  • For people who cannot personally drop off their ballots at the Consulate in Merida, VAOs will collect ballots and bulk mail them by commercial carrier to the Embassy in Mexico City for inclusion in the diplomatic pouch.  This will happen at least once a week.  Voters can either drop off ballots at specified locations or request pick-up through the contact listed below.  (There will be more VOA’s available for ballot pickup in September.)
  • Before October 2, VAOs will bulk mail absentee ballots by commercial carrier to a trusted VAO in the US for mailing through the US Postal Service.

Option 3)  Send your ballot yourself. If you wish to send your own ballot back to your election office in the US, use a commercial carrier such as Federal Express, UPS or DHL.** Make sure you return your ballot in plenty of time to be received by the election office in your state. Voters are discouraged from using the Mexican postal service to mail back ballots.  **Added August 17: check with your state or local elections office to make sure they will accept a ballot delivered by a courier service.  There have been a few reports of offices refusing to do this.

About Postage-paid Election Mail and US Postage

Unless you are mailing your ballot directly to the election office using a commercial carrier, once your paper ballot reaches the United States, it must have sufficient postage affixed to it so it can be mailed to your state’s election office. This requires either two first-class US postage stamps or the printing of a free, postage paid envelope available from FVAP.  US citizens living abroad are authorized to use the free, postage-paid envelope that will ensure your ballot is mailed to the state election office once the ballot arrives in the US. Information on how to prepare and print this postage-paid envelope can be found here:

https://www.fvap.gov/eo/overview/sending-ballots/creating-envelopes

If needed, US postage stamps are available through VAOs at cost. Supplies are limited.

Contacting volunteer Voter Assistance Officers

Democrats Abroad is helping all voters, regardless of political party affiliation with voter registration and absentee ballot requests.  Every Sunday they will hold a virtual voter assistance event – visit their website for more information:  www.democratsabroad.com

Individual assistance can also be requested by sending an email to: info-mx-yucatan@democratsabroad.com

Finally, individuals in Yucatan can contact Elizabeth Saviano directly at ecsaviano@gmail.com

Please note that the Republicans Overseas organization is not providing any localized assistance in Yucatan.


On behalf of the Beach Area News team, stay safe and healthy wherever you are!
Bob Rentz, Speranza Avram, Karen Cloutier, Dave Bloch

24 March 2020 Newsletter–Coronavirus Update

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE – MARCH 24, 2020

OUR COVID-19 PAGE:  http://beachareanews.com/?page_id=422

We hope this Newsletter finds you well, staying safely in your home, and managing your life through this current “new normal”. This issue of Beach Area News will provide updated information to the expat community who are living here to help them stay informed during the coming weeks. All information we provide has come directly from local or state government sources, or individuals who have translated information from these sources. In between issues of this Newsletter, we will post new information on our Website.

On the evening of March 23, Julian Zazarias Curi, the Mayor of Progreso, gave a long speech on Facebook about the current situation. We hope to post a full translation of his speech on our website soon, but here are the important messages for the community, both expats and locals:

  • The next two weeks will be critical to slowing the spread of the virus here in our communities. There are currently no reported cases of COVID-19 in Progreso or the surrounding beach communities, but the Mayor is certain that there will be soon. Everyone is urged to stay home as much as possible. The beaches are closed, schools are closed, bars and discos are closed. Many restaurants are now also closed, and those that are open must close at 10 pm.
  • The City has been working to sanitize as many public spaces as possible – the banks, the mercados, the buses, and the combis.
  •  He reminded everyone that the city itself is not closed – people from Merida work here and people from Progreso work in Merida, so there will be traffic back and forth. They are discouraging people from coming here to vacation. He did not explicitly address the issue of Semana Santa except to say that there will be many Semana Santas in the future. We suspect that this issue will be addressed as we get closer to the official two-week holiday (April 4 thru April 19), based on what is happening here in the community.
  • He encouraged the business community to take care of their workers during this incredibly difficult time. He also is waiting for additional resources from the federal government that will pass through the state to the city to help displaced workers and their families.

If you think you have symptoms of COVID-19, there is a state-wide number to call 800-YUCATAN  (800-982-2826) to be screened for testing. Help is available in English – just press 9 when you start hearing the Spanish recording. The first operator you get may not be English-speaking  – if that is the case, please just say “ayuda en ingles, por favor”. Do not go to your local doctor or hospital if you think you have symptoms!  The state will send someone to your house if testing is warranted.

There are daily updates from the Yucatan State Department of Health that are translated every morning from Stephanie Carmon on her Mid City Beat Facebook page.  Her updates include information on the current number of cases in the state (19 confirmed cases as of March 23, all of them mild and under control) as well as other good information.  We suggest you check her Facebook page regularly.

More links to credible information from the state and federal government are located on the Coronavirus section of our website. We are also going to be adding information on bilingual medical personnel who are available for questions about the virus or other health issues, as well as information on how the expat community can help our local neighbors through donations of food, cash or other services. Now, more than ever, we will need to give back to the local community that provides us with such a wonderful place to call home.

That’s it for now – stay safe, stay home, and be kind to your friends and neighbors – we are all in this together!

The Beach Area News Team – Bob Rentz, Speranza Avram, Karen Cloutier, Dave Bloch and David Nevers

15 March 2020 Newsletter

This edition of Beach Area News will focus first on what is on everyone’s mind, which is the coronavirus. We will then provide a brief security update and feature some photos from a Town Hall meeting with the Mayor and the City of Progreso to recognize the many contributions made by foreign residents and visitors.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE
Information current as of March 15, 2020

There are now 41 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Mexico (Secretary of Health, 7PM March 14). Credible sources estimate that community contamination (meaning the virus is being spread by the local population, not by outside sources) will ramp up over the next couple of weeks.
https://www.eluniversal.com.mx/english/mexicos-covid-19-contingency-plan-three-key-phases-fight-coronavirus-outbreak

Many of our snowbird visitors from Canada and the US are making plans to go home, either on schedule or a bit early. We encourage those readers to visit the websites of your governments to get the most up-to-date information regarding travel back to the US or Canada. We have provided links to those website below.

For our readers who will be staying here in Mexico through April or who live here full-time, this edition of Beach Area News will provide you with links to credible sources of information that you can rely on to stay informed.  There is a lot of misinformation and confusing instructions out on the Internet and social media right now!  That is why the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that individuals avoid surfing all over the Internet looking for the latest information.  Locate a few trusted sources and focus on the information posted there.

For the next 30-60 days, cruise ships will no longer be coming into Progreso, and currently many public events are being cancelled in both Progreso and Mérida.  Since the Beach Area News Team is currently limiting our time in public spaces, we were able to invest some time over the weekend finding credible sources of information for those of us who will be here in the Yucatan for the next two months.

The first pages that everyone should visit are these:

(ADDED 18 March:  Yucatan government official information http://coronavirus.yucatan.gob.mx

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html 
(For those heading back to the USA, after reading the page, scroll down and click Travelers.)
or
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html
(Canadians who are headed home soon should click the Travel Advice link on that page.)

===

SPECIFIC TO MEXICO AND YUCATAN

Beach Area News is communicating regularly with our contacts in the Progreso city and Yucatan state governments.  Both entities are working to provide information in English and as soon as these are available, we will send an update to our readers. We have created a page on our own Website HERE; which will be filled with new material as we find it, so check it starting Monday!

The Mexican government and the US Embassy in Mexico City are advising anyone needing information or medical attention to call the Mexico Secretary of Health COVID-19 Hotline at 800 0044 800. English language operators are sometimes, but not always, available.

Meanwhile, we have been sent Internet and Facebook sites from our federal, state and local government contacts that you can use to stay informed about this situation. Facebook has a feature which allows you to translate posts from Spanish into English at the end of each post; just click See Translation.

–The Yucatan Health Department is putting out fresh information on their Facebook page:

–The Governor of Yucatan Mauricio Vila also posts information directly from his office:

The US Embassy in Mexico City has current country-specific information on its Website:
https://mx.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/

–The US State Department‘s information page is HERE:
https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/covid-19-information.html 
This includes links to the latest information on entry restrictions into the USA from foreign countries.

–If you’re a Twitter user, the Mexico Secretaria de Salud (health department) puts out their latest information in Spanish at @SSalud_MX

And we found the website of the Americas Society Council of the Americas to be very helpful in directing us to credible government sources and distilling the most current information about Mexico into a digestible size.  (Scroll down to Mexico if necessary.)
https://www.as-coa.org/articles/where-coronavirus-latin-america#mexico


SECURITY UPDATE

There continue to be break-ins along the beach area of Chelem and Chuburna. At a recent Town Hall meeting with the Mayor, he was made aware of this situation and the Comandante of the Municipal Police Emilio Caamal indicated that two new beach patrol motorized quad units will be added in the coming days.

With the cancellation of cruise ships, many local businesses and the people they employ will lose a major source of revenue. We want to remind our readers to continue to be vigilant regarding their personal security as well as their homes. We cannot emphasize enough that prevention of a crime is far better than dealing with one after the fact. Visit our website at beachareanews.com to read the many crime prevention measures we have posted on our site. Be sure to download our Security Leaflet from the home page!


PROGRESO MAYOR HONORS LOCAL RESIDENTS 

Progreso Mayor Julian Zacarias Curi held a Town Hall meeting on March 11 to solicit questions from the expat community on how the City could improve its services to us. Issues that were raised to the Mayor included:

  • Need for improved security in Chelem and Chuburna
  • Uneven enforcement of rules to prevent unauthorized dumping of garbage
  • The importance of continuing City involvement in spaying and neutering of dogs and cats
  • The need for more bicycle parking in Centro

To address these issues, the Mayor announced the following new initiatives:

  • a Neighborhood Watch / resident association program that will be coordinated by City Department Directors
  • new laws that give the city increased ability to seize private property if the owner is creating a public nuisance (such as letting garbage pile up)
  • the purchase of a mobile veterinary services vehicle that is able to travel to the outlying areas of Progreso to perform spay and neuter services
  • new bike racks are being installed over the next few weeks

Tourism and Economic Development Director Manuel Rosado announced the upcoming addition of a native English-speaking staff person to the Foreigners Assistance Services Team (FAST Progreso). This person will enhance the ability of the City to provide more information about its services and activities in English.

The Mayor made it very clear that the City of Progreso appreciates all of the ways that expat residents and visitors contribute to the local economy and the well-being of the community. A number of individuals were recognized for their efforts in organizing formal assistance programs; see the photo below and more on our Website.  The Mayor also recognized our very own Bob Rentz–currently somewhere on the oceans of the Far East–for his efforts on helping to organize the roll-out of the new trash collection system.

And finally, the Mayor acknowledged the Beach Area News team for our service to the community!


THANKS FOR READING!

On behalf of all of as the Beach Area News Team, stay safe, stay informed, and wash your hands often!  For those of you heading home, Buen Viaje and see you next season!

The Beach Area News Team: Bob Rentz, Speranza Avram, Karen Cloutier, Dave Bloch and David Nevers

11 March 2020 Mayor’s Town Hall Photos

Mayor Julian Zacarias Curi addresses the crowd of about sixty expats.

 

 

The Mayor answered questions and addressed concerns from members of the audience.

 

 

Several representatives of local hardworking community organizations received recognition from the Mayor.

 

CERTIFICATES AND GIFTS WERE GIVEN TO:

Sally Again-Hirst
Organizer of Expat float in the 2019 Progreso Carnaval celebration

 

 

 

Richard Long
for his long-time contributions of school supplies to children in our area

 

 

Kim Ray
representing the Chelem Apoyo Program

 

 

 

Karen Cloutier
and Francois Cloutier (not pictured) for their coordination of  the Chicxulub Soup Kitchen

 

 

 

 

Karen Cochrane
representing No Mas Perritos

 

 

 

 

Jody Wilson
representing Sharon Helgason and the Chicxulub Food Bank

 

 

 

 

Dorothy Kaytor
representing the Chuburna Apoyo Program

 

 

 

David Wright
for offering marketing classes for area small businesses

 

 

 

 

Speranza Avram
representing the Progreso Apoyo Program

 

 

 

The mayor also acknowledged Bob Rentz for his long-term work on improving garbage collection, as well as the entire Beach Area News team for our newsletter and Website.