Even as local government and activists pushed back against the decision, the federal government announced the opening of certain industries.
Guidelines issued overnight by the federal government of Mexico called for the restarting of operations of certain sectors like automotive, mining and construction. Companies would be required to submit health protocols for exiting the virus lockdown which will be approved within 72 hours. The lockdown will remain in place but these sectors have been reclassified as “essential services” by the General Health Council, the country’s top advisory body on the pandemic.
It is believed that the move comes after growing pressure from the neighbouring US to reopen factories that are critical to the supply chains of US-based business, especially in the automotive sector. The sector in the US has started coming back online after a long hiatus, with vehicle assembly plants reopening and suppliers gearing for a ramp-up in production.
But plans to reopen in Mexico have not been met with approval by some politicians and activists who continue to be concerned about the growing pandemic in Latin America, rising national toll and uncertainty about the work conditions waiting for those being sent back to work.
Local governments in the country pushed back against President Andres Manual Lopez Obrador’s call to slowly being online the economy in some 300 townships with no active cases of the coronavirus – called “municipalities of hope. Many states are deciding to not allow any relaxation yet, preferring to wait until June to consider resuming activities.
A newspaper poll showed that 67% of Mexicans believed the pandemic hasn’t peaked yet and the worst was yet to come. Only 20% thought it was over. Meanwhile, Mexico’s coronavirus death toll has crossed 5,300 with over 51,000 cases. Last week, the country reported a record number of 353 COVID-19-related fatalities in a single day and 2,437 new infections in another single day in the same week.