What will happen during the Health Emergency?

Since our last post there have been two official resolutions made concerning the Covid19 pandemic in Mexico:

The one published on 3/30/2020 whereby Mexico’s Health General Council (Consejo de Salubridad General or “CSG”) – a government organization that reports directly to the Mexican President:

1) Declared a health emergency due to force majeure (an event beyond anyone’s control (e.g., earthquake, pandemic) that would trigger civil and labor law provisions); and,

2) Resolved that the Ministry of Health would have discretion to determine the actions that will be performed in order to respond to the emergency.

The one published on 3/31/2020 whereby the Ministry of Health, using the discretion granted under the 3/30 resolution above, resolved extraordinary measures consisting of:

1) Immediate suspension of “non-essential” activities (please see below) from March 30 to April 30, 2020.

2) Guidelines that must be followed in all workplaces that carry out essential activities such as:

– Not holding meetings or gatherings of more than 50 people.

– Wash hands thoroughly.

– Sneezing and coughing by covering nose and mouth with a disposable tissue or with forearm.

– No greetings with kiss, hand or hug (greet at a distance).

– All other health measures in force as issued by the Ministry of Health.

3) Encouraging “stay-at-home” from March 30 to April 30, 2020. This applies to everyone residing in Mexico – including people arriving from abroad and who do not participate in essential work activities.
4) Ordering “stay-at-home” from March 30 to April 30, 2020:

– People over 60 years of age

– Pregnant women or under their postpartum period.

– People diagnosed with hypertension, diabetes, chronic heart or lung disease, immunosuppression, kidney or liver failure, regardless of whether your work activity is considered essential.

Notwithstanding the above, all “essential” public interest personnel may voluntarily report to work.

After the above period lapses (March 30 to April 30, 2020), the authorities will issue a set of guidelines to resume activities.

So what are the essential activities that will be allowed to continue operating for both the private and public sectors?

Under the 3/31 resolution, only activities that are considered necessary to aid the health emergency, such as those that belong to the sectors below.

I want to point out that there is room for activities that are not specifically described here and, as such, should be analyzed on a case by case basis.

a) Healthcare Industry and its Suppliers. This would cover medical, paramedical, administrative and supporting activities in the National Health System (e.g., hospitals, health clinics, and similar), as well as suppliers of the above industries, including producers and distributors (e.g. pharmacies; medical inputs, equipment, and health technology; cleaning and bio-hazardous waste disposal).

b) Public security and safety. This would cover police, fire fighters, army, attorney general’s office, federal and local congress).

c) Fundamental Sectors for the Economy. They will cover:

  • Financial institutions.
  • Tax agencies.
  • Sale and distribution of gas, water, food, non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Grocery and self-service shops.
  • Transportation services (cargo and passenger).
  • Agricultural, fishing and livestock production.
  • Agribusiness.
  • Chemical industry.
  • Cleaning products.
  • Hardware stores.
  • Courier services.
  • Private security services.
  • Day-care centers and nurseries.
  • Assisted living.
  • Care centers for women that have been victims of violence, as well as their issue.
  • Telecommunications and information media.
  • Private emergency services.
  • Death care industry.
  • Storage services and cool chain of essential supplies.
  • Logistics (airports, ports and railways).
  • Activities that may have irreversible effects resulting from the suspension, which may give rise to a permanent shutdown (This last one is confusing to read. It leaves room open for many activities. Perhaps the Health Ministry will clear out later or else leave as is for the benefit of other activities that are complying with health safety measures but are not in the list).

d) Government Social Programs. Activities that are related directly with the operation of government’s social programs.

e) Indispensable Services. Infrastructure for essential services such as drinking water, electricity, gas, oil, gasoline, jet fuel, basic sanitation, public transportation, hospital and medical infrastructure, among others that could be listed in this category.

I would personally have liked to see a list as exhaustive as CISA’s Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers Guidance. Nonetheless, because the purpose of these resolutions is to mitigate the risks associated with Covid-19, I would believe that the essential activities covered should be interpreted broadly, so long as they do not become a threat to the health of the people.

 

Make sure to check back for updates as there will be more resolutions related to the present in the following days.

CAVEAT: do not make a decision based on the above content. This post is not legal advice but an overview of the abovementioned subjects.