As we all know, the Government of Mexico announced a National Safe Distance Period [in Spanish: la Jornada Nacional de Sana Distancia], stemming from the COVID-19 epidemic, and consisting on the immediate suspension of all non-essential activities from March 30 to April 30, 20201. The period was extended to May 30, 2020, to mitigate the spreading and transmission of the COVID-19 virus, thereby reducing the burden of the disease, its complications, and deaths from COVID-19. The event preceded the beginning of Phase III.
Social distancing measures have severely affected the country’s economy. The loss of jobs and purchasing power for a large portion of the population was a natural consequence of the interruption of economic activity at a national level. Therefore, it was vital to relax social distancing measures in those municipalities that, on May 18, 2020, had shown low or zero transmission of the COVID-19 virus. According to the National Epidemiological Surveillance System [in Spanish: el Sistema Nacional de Vigilancia Epidemiológica], the referred to as “Municipalities of Hope” have had no reported cases in the last 28 days2.
The announcement of the reopening strategy for social, educational, and economic activities called: “the new normalcy,” was announced on May 13, 20203, and includes a group of measures that attempt to promote a gradual, orderly, and cautious reopening that is safe and long-lasting; its primary intention being to offer clarity, safety, and certainty to the population. Therefore, the economic reactivation of the country must not be seen as a return to the normalcy that we were familiar with before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, on May 14 and 15, the Secretariat of Health [in Spanish: la Secretaría de Salud], published in the Official Gazette of the Federation [in Spanish: el Diario Oficial de la Federación] (“DOF”)4-5, several agreements through which the following were announced:
• The strategy for reopening social, educational, and economic activities;
• A “traffic light system” per region for weekly evaluations of the epidemiological risks related to the reopening of activities in each state, and
• A series of extraordinary actions applicable to the construction and mining industries, and the one regarding the manufacturing of transport equipment.
Both agreements will come into effect the day following their date of publication and will be in force until the health emergency that gave rise to them is declared terminated.
I. Strategy for reopening social, educational, and economic activities
The strategy consists of 3 stages:
Stage 1: Begins on May 18, 2020, with the reopening of activities in the Municipalities of Hope (269 municipalities distributed among 15 states of the Mexican Republic).
Stage 2: From May 18 to 31, 2020, and includes carrying out general enforcement actions aimed at preparing for the reopening of activities in general, such as:
• Developing health protocols to restart activities safely;
• Training of personnel regarding safety in a work-related environment;
• Reassignment of spaces and production processes;
• Implementation of entry screening;
• Disinfection and hygiene of workspace;
• Among others to be determined by the Secretariat of Health.
Stage 3: Begins June 01, 2020, according to the “traffic light system” per region for the reopening of social, educational, and economic activities.
II. “Traffic light” per region
Through the use of colors, the “traffic light system” establishes the appropriate health and safety measures related to education and labor activities, as well as the use of public spaces. It aims to monitor, weekly, possible epidemiological risks derived from the reopening of activities in each state, as well as to determine permitted activities for each region, shown in the following table:
Permitted activities as of June 01, 2020
III. Extraordinary activities
Companies engaged in activities such as construction, mining, and those related to the manufacturing of transport equipment will be considered essential, and may restart operations as of June 01, 2020, provided that they comply with the following:
I. The preparation period begins on May 18, 2020;
II. Health and safety protocols must be submitted per the general guidelines mandated by the Secretariats of Health, Economy, and Labor and Social Welfare [in Spanish: la Secretaría de Salud, la Secretaría de Economía, and Secretaría de Trabajo y Previsión Social respectively].
III. The submission, application, and approval of all protocols can be granted at the same time as the preparation measures for the start-up of company operations;
IV. The period covers May 18 to June 01, 2020, and is the period to perform the health and safety protocols and mechanisms that have been established in companies, according to the guidelines on health safety in the work environment, published by the Secretariat of Health, in coordination with the Department of Labor and Social Services; as well as the Mexican Social Security Institute [in Spanish: el Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social];
V. If the process comes to a successful conclusion and is approved before June 01, 2020, the company or corresponding industry may restart their operations, and
VI. It has been clarified that this is a goodwill agreement; however, if not complied with, the companies or industries that put the health of their workers at risk will be closed.
Companies in the automotive industry and auto parts manufacturers engaged in export, in addition to complying with the foregoing, must also apply the protocols required by the countries with which they carry out operations.
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1 Actividades no esenciales/ https://www.dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5590914&