Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Mexico to ease restrictions in 269 municipalities starting May 18. Border restrictions with the US remain in place through May 20.

This alert affects Mexico

This alert began 16 May 2020 23:04 GMT and is scheduled to expire 31 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Business, transport, and travel disruptions; heightened security

Summary
Mexican authorities plan to ease restrictions in 269 of the nation's 2,464 municipalities on May 18 as the first stage of their coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery plan. Of the townships affected, 171 are in the state of Oaxaca, while 17 are in Sonora, 14 in Puebla, 12 in Jalisco, 11 in Veracruz, and 10 in Guerrero. Most social and economic activities will be allowed to resume, including in-person lessons in schools. The government selected these particular locations due to the fact that they and their neighboring municipalities have not reported any confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Most restrictions will remain unchanged in the rest of the country. However, authorities have declared construction, mining, and vehicle manufacturing as essential businesses; hence, activity in those sectors may also resume May 18.

Mexico's border with the US remains closed to all nonessential ground travel through at least May 20. According to authorities in both countries, commerce and emergency services are not affected by the closure, which has been in place since March 21. The Mexican government continues to advise its citizens to avoid nonessential travel abroad.

Except as stipulated otherwise, orders closing nonessential businesses and canceling nonessential activities will remain in place through at least May 31. Essential businesses that have not been subject to closure orders include those operating in the emergency response, medical care, pharmacies, medical equipment production and distribution, food production and distribution, security, transport, energy, communications, and critical manufacturing sectors. Essential government services also continue to operate. Residents 60 years of age or older and persons with underlying health conditions are still required to remain inside their homes, except to perform essential tasks, through at least May 31. Authorities have advised, but not ordered, all residents to do the same.

Residents of Mexico City and at least eleven states - Nuevo Leon, Jalisco, Puebla, Morelos, Tamaulipas, Quintana Roo, Oaxaca, Durango, Coahuila, Guanajuato, and Yucatan - must wear protective masks whenever they are in public or using public transport. Some states, including Sonora, Michoacan, Quintana Roo, and Jalisco, have imposed stricter measures, including requirements that residents not leave their homes, except to perform essential tasks.

Authorities could expand or extend their preventative measures and movement restrictions over the coming days and weeks. All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by authorities in Mexico are similar to actions taken by other governments globally in recent weeks in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic March 11.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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