Region/Countries: Mexico, North America Industry: Multiple Sectors Date: May 2020

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Although cases and deaths are still high, a widespread lockdown is unlikely due to the economic impact.

On May 18, about 50 days after declaring a national health emergency, Mexico began its three-phase reopening process. The country crossed another threshold on the same day, as confirmed cases topped 50,000. Two days later, the confirmed death count exceeded 400 in one day for the first time. With one of the lowest testing rates in Latin America, civil society groups and media outlets are releasing reports and raising concerns that official tallies undercount Mexico’s COVID-19 deaths, with the true number being at least three times higher in Mexico City, the country’s pandemic epicenter.

Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell, the government’s top coronavirus spokesman, has acknowledged that case and death tallies are higher than the official numbers. Although daily case counts continue to rise, the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced the country had hit peak contagion on May 8, and unveiled its reactivation plan a few days later. There’s little mystery as to why: 10.7 million Mexicans are at risk of falling into extreme poverty, and analysts forecast a GDP contraction of at least 7% for 2020. With more than 555,000 jobs lost in April, the highest monthly loss on record, Mexicans are worried about their economic fate.

On May 10, Lopez-Gatell suggested that even with new outbreaks, there would not be a return to a national-level quarantine, given the devastating economic effects. Mexico’s General Health Council will add the following industries to the list of essential businesses effective June 1: construction, mining and manufacturing of transportation equipment, including equipment for the automotive, aerospace, railway and shipping industries. The Mexican government is also expected to issue mandatory measures for all businesses to follow as a return-to-work requirement. The General Health Council has designated automotive production, construction and mining as essential activities, paving the way for the sectors to reopen despite the ongoing pandemic. In order to return to business, however, companies in these industries must follow the government’s Technical Guidelines on Health and Safety in the Workplace and obtain government approval of their health and safety measures.