April 3, 2020

Comments to the Decree that Sets Forth Extraordinary Actions to Address the Emergency Created by the SARS-CoV2 Virus

On March 31, 2020, another Decree regarding extraordinary actions to address the health emergency was published by the Department of Health in the Official Journal of the Federation.

Suspension of non-essential activities

Some essential activities have been authorized to continue operations, including:

  • Work activities of the medical, paramedical, administrative and support branches throughout the National Health System; also, activities in the pharmaceutical sector; the manufacture of supplies, medical technologies for healthcare; activities related to the proper disposal of biological-infectious hazardous waste, and those related to cleaning and sanitizing medical facilities;
  • Public safety and protection of the population;
  • Fundamental sectors of the economy: financial, tax revenue collection, distribution and sale of energy products, gas and gas stations, generation and distribution of potable water, food and non-alcoholic beverages industry, food markets, supermarkets, convenience stores, grocery and prepared food sales; passenger and cargo transportation services; agricultural, fishing and livestock production, agribusiness, chemical industry, cleaning products; hardware stores, courier services, guards providing private security services; day-care centers and nurseries, asylums and retirement homes for the elderly; telecommunications and information media; private emergency services, funeral and burial services, storage services and cold chains for essential supplies; logistics services (airports, ports and railways), as well as activities the suspension of which may have irreversible effects for their continuation.
  • Government social welfare services;
  • Activities necessary for the conservation, maintenance and repair of critical infrastructure that ensures the performance and provision of essential services: potable water, electricity, gas, petroleum, gasoline, jet fuel, basic sanitation, public transportation, hospital and medical infrastructure.
The Decree states that in all places and venues where the activities defined as essential are carried out, the following practices must be observed:
  • meetings or gatherings of more than 50 individuals may not be held, handwashing, sneezing etiquette (covering with a disposable tissue or sneezing into the elbow), greeting from a distance;
  • shelter at home is strictly applicable to anyone over sixty years of age, pregnant and post-partum women, those diagnosed with hypertension, diabetes mellitus, kidney or liver failure, chronic heart or lung disease, or immunosuppression.
Upon the expiration of this Decree on April 30, 2020, the federal government will issue guidelines for an orderly and staggered return, by region, to labor, economic and social activities for all of Mexico.

The Decree is silent on how labor and employment matters will be treated during this emergency. The official position of the federal authorities is also ambiguous.
Almost by chance, the Secretary of Foreign Relations turned into a spokesman for the federal government and stated:

“This declaration is a health emergency caused by events of force majeure. Any company that attempts (to pay less than what is due to its employees) is going to face a labor proceeding that it will lose, because the law is very clear”.

“It will not be worth it for companies to do so because if they do, they will destroy their company; they will be left without any know-how or training. It would be suicide.” he added. The Mexican President invited companies to pay their employees 100% throughout the month of April.

It is expected that Mexico’s Department of the Economy, whose powers include formulating, conducting, regulating, and controlling the general policies of industry, international and domestic trade, supply, and prices of the country, will assist the Ministry of Health in the preparation of a list of specific supplies, essential goods and merchandise, as well as services required by plants producing essential supplies, goods and merchandise.