Mexico issued guidelines on Monday for restarting operations in the automotive, mining and construction sectors, pushing ahead with reopening the economy despite a growing national toll from the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns about unsafe work sites.
With Mexico’s coronavirus death toll having surged past 5,300, and with 51,633 known cases, officials are wrestling with how to restart key industries without triggering a greater spread of the highly contagious respiratory virus.
The moves to loosen restrictions follow growing pressure from the United States to reopen factories that are vital to supply chains of U.S.-based businesses, especially in the vast automotive sector.
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Mexico’s reopening plans have drawn criticism from some politicians worried that the still-rising pandemic tide in Latin America makes it unsafe to send more people to work.
Mexico’s guidelines, published overnight, require companies to submit to authorities health protocols for exiting the coronavirus lockdown. Firms will then be told within 72 hours if they can resume operations.
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General Motors Co, which operates one of its most important plants in the city of Silao in central Mexico, told workers there to prepare to return to work on Wednesday.