Mexico City Slowly Getting Back to Business, With Airport and Hotels Fully Operational

Nearly one week following the 7.1 earthquake that shook Central Mexico on Sept. 19, Mexico City is slowly getting back to business. Following safety inspections, more than 100 schools and universities resumed classes and activities yesterday. Schools and many places of business remain shuttered in a handful of neighborhoods where rescue operations continue, streets are closed or buildings are thought to pose a security threat. 

Travel infrastructure is largely intact. Officials say the damages suffered outside Terminal 2 of Mexico City International Airport will not inconvenience either passengers or planes, and service has been operational and regular since last week. American Airlines, Delta and United all have travel waivers in place for Mexico City through today but are operating all regularly scheduled flights.

Popular meetings hotels have, likewise, for the most part suffered little damage. The 160-room Le Méridien, on Paseo de la Reforma, was closed for several days as a precaution, due to minor damage to the elevators. No injuries were reported, and the hotel reopened Monday following a thorough evaluation. All other Marriott International properties have remained open since the earthquake. Many, such as the 189-room St. Regis Mexico City, have been supporting the community by feeding volunteers, helping in shelters and offering general assistance. St. Regis staff took a truckfull of donations to the neighboring Morelos state this weekend, where communities have been hit hard and received less aid than that offered to Mexico City.

Rafael Micha, managing partner of Grupo Habita, which operates a half-dozen boutique properties in the affected region, reported his hotels and their employees are fine. "But we are just so sad with everything that has happened and are looking out for opportunities to help our neighbors," he said. One of Habita's properties, CondesaDF, is very close to an apartment building that collapsed in the trendy Condesa neighborhood. 

The Condesa was one of the central, touristed areas that suffered significant damage from the quake, along with the nearby zones of La Roma, Juárez and the Centro Histórico. Many Airbnb properties are located in these areas, although at press time, Airbnb had not responded regarding an estimated number of properties affected. 

Chef Jair Tellez and his wife, Milena Pezzi, owners of Restaurante Amaya in the Juárez neighborhood, reopened on Friday, in large part to help feed volunteers and those in need. The restaurant was taking donations of food and supplies to aid rescuers and shelters, and offering food, water, bathrooms and WiFi to those who required such necessities. The couple's popular restaurant in the Condesa, MeroToro, will reopen Wednesday.

Poorer, outlying neighborhoods, such as those in Xochimilco - which draws tourists for boat rides on its network of waterways - suffered extensive damage and have been slower to receive aid. Many residents in that area currently are badly in need of water and other necessities, local reports have noted.

According to the latest government figures, 320 people have died as a result of the quake, 182 of whom were in Mexico City. The others were in the state of Morelos (73), Puebla (45), Mexico State (13), Guerrero (6) and Oaxaca (1). That's not including fatalities that resulted from the magnitude 8.1 quake that hit off the coast of Oaxaca on Sept. 7, which accounted for about 100 deaths, nor the 6.1 aftershock that occurred this past weekend, which was responsible for four more. More than 300 buildings in Mexico City alone are in bad shape and require further inspection to determine whether they can be rebuilt or must be torn down, according to local officials. 

Also, 87 percent of the inspected buildings across the vast metropolis were deemed safe and habitable, according to official sources. 

In general, tourist attractions in Central Mexico remain open and functioning, per the Mexico Tourism Board, and the country's other tourism hot spots haven't been affected. "The Mexico Tourism Board, and the entire tourism industry, are focused on ensuring that visitors in affected destinations receive any assistance necessary while continuing with their existing travel plans," said the organization in a statement.