Bars closed for safety violations, lack of permits

By Antonio De Jesús Aguado

In December, four bars in the city were closed down by the authorities, two for lack of adequate safety precautions and two for lack of proper permits. La Chula and Limerick, both on calle Umarán, were closed because the owners did not conform to safety requirements. Sunset Bar, on Mesones, and Sushito, on San Francisco, opened for business without securing all the required permits from the local government and were closed temporarily.

Felipe Cohen, director of the Civil Protection Department, said that since the beginning of this administration he has been concerned that many business establishments with rooftops accessible to customers did not meet building safety requirements and that others were “unregulated mousetraps.” According to Cohen, when they began inspecting these places, they noticed that they did not have emergency exits, emergency signs, sufficiently wide passageways or safety programs. He alerted the bar owners that the first inspection was a courtesy and gave them a deadline of 20 days to go to city hall to discuss what they must do to conform to regulations. Some bar owners, including those of La Chula and Limerick, did not follow through, and for that reason their businesses were closed down.

Mayor Mauricio Trejo said that the bars were not closed for personal reasons, but rather because personnel of the Civil Protection Department were doing their jobs. “The Civil Protection Department has the responsibility and duty of providing protection to the citizens, and for more than 30 days they have been asking the owners to make their bars safe. All the places that sell alcohol and those that host tourists inside their establishments must provide security for their clients.” Trejo remarked that all those owners of establishments without proper emergency and safety procedures in place, personnel trained in first aid, and engineering reports stating that their rooftops are structurally sound will be in serious trouble.

As Trejo noted, in San Miguel some of the rooftops are as old as 200 years and were not designed to support large groups of people, especially if they are jumping around or dancing. “It would be a matter of time before a rooftop collapses, and that would be a black day for San Miguel. It will not happen during my administration,” he said.

If people want to open their rooftops, said Trejo, “they must provide evidence that the structure can withstand the weight or it must be reinforced following INAH (National Institute of Anthropology and History) regulations.” He reiterated that the bars have been closed because the owners have not met the requirements, but when they do the bars will be allowed to reopen. “In my administration, avoiding the law is not an option,” he asserted.

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