The first of 15 sanitation tents was installed outside a mercado in Merida. Immediately, residents lined up to try it. Photo: Courtesy

Merida, Yucatan — The city’s latest tool in the fight against COVID-19 looks a little like a car wash for people.

It’s the city’s first “módulo sanitizante” to send a disinfectant mist on anyone who cares to walk through.

The sanitation tent allows pedestrians to walk through fully clothed, without even taking off their glasses. Officials insist the procedure is safe for skin, eyes and clothing.

Mayor Renán Barrera Concha supervised the inauguration of the first of 15 tents Wednesday afternoon at the entrance to the Lucas de Gálvez market, one of the Centro’s most bustling areas, on Calle 56 between 67 and 65. It will be in operation 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Although most stores downtown are shuttered, market stalls that sell essential food items are allowed to remain open.

Accompanied by the director of Social Welfare, Jesús Aguilar y Aguilar and the deputy director of municipal Health, Irving Sauri Cruz, the mayor told citizens not to let their guard down in prevention matters.

“This sanitizing tent along with the other 14 that will be installed for the same purpose are part of the innovative actions that allow us to continue to be at the forefront in caring for the population,” Barrera Concha said.

The 2-by-2-meter plastic and rubber tent has motion detectors to trigger a spray when volunteers walk through. Inside it has an internal hydro-pneumatic sprinkler system, which allows disinfecting an average of three to four people per minute.

The sprayers send a mist of fourth-generation ammonium germicide with great bactericidal, fungicidal, virucidal and algicidal power, according to the city. It kills not only coronavirus but also influenza, E. coli, Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Salmonella typhi, which causes typhoid.

“Hopefully they work,” reads one comment under the Facebook post announcing the project.