MEXICO CITY (AP) — Local governments across Mexico pushed back on Monday May 18th, against President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s call to reopen the economy in some 300 townships that do not have active cases of coronavirus, with leaders saying they preferred to wait until June before resuming normal activities.
Mexico, which has reported nearly 50,000 total cases and some 5,000 deaths, has seen a steep climb in new infections. Front-line doctors fear that a premature reopening could lead to a second wave of infections — a scenario that recently played out in Chile and Guatemala, where governments had to roll back reopening plans.
But López Obrador has been pressing to reactivate the economy. In addition to opening virus-free communities, his health advisers have said that the mining, construction and automotive industries could resume operations as early as Monday.
The country’s lockdown — which began in March — will remain in place, but those industries will be allowed to return to production because Mexico’s top advisory body on the pandemic, the General Health Council, had decided to classify them as “essential activities.”
“Today productive social activity has already started to open where it was agreed, and they can start classes,” López Obrador said. “We are talking about around 300 townships where there are no infections.”
A General Motors plant in the central state of Guanajuato told workers that one shift would return to operations Monday. Workers must wear masks and glasses at all times and be clean shaven.
But in most approved areas, the president’s words did not result in any changes.
In the southern state of Oaxaca, which has more than 200 of the infection-free townships, Gov. Alejandro Murat said in a video address Sunday that after consultations with other communities, officials decided to wait until June 1 to begin evaluating whether to resume economic activity.
Murat said students would not return to class Monday even in communities without confirmed cases of the virus.