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Red, Orange, Yellow, Green—Go! Considerations for Reopening in Mexico: Social, Educational, and Economic Activities

The federal government of Mexico is implementing a sanitary alert system—called the “traffic light” system—for gradually reopening activities, including the economy in a safe and durable manner. The reopening will be performed in three phases.

Phase 1

Reopening of activities started on May 18, 2020, in the municipalities that the federal government has already established. To be cleared for reopening, municipalities must not have any confirmed cases of COVID-19, nor may any neighboring municipalities have any confirmed COVID-19 cases. All labor activities will reopen in these municipalities.

Phase 2

Preparation period (May 18, 2020, to May 31, 2020): The construction, mining, and transportation equipment industries, which are now designated as “New Essential Industries,” must adopt and validate safety and hygiene protocols to resume labor activities in a safe way.

Phase 3

As of June 1, 2020, the economic reopening of industries and activities will be subject to a weekly sanitary traffic light signal by region (state or municipal), which will determine the level of sanitary alert and define which kinds of activities are authorized to be performed in the economic, labor, educational, and social sectors. Note that essential activities may always operate.

Starting on June 1, 2020, the federal traffic light system will be implemented on a weekly basis. The traffic light system will determine the level of risk for each state and municipality in Mexico. (Some states, including Nuevo León, Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Durango, Michoacán, Colima, and Jalisco, have openly declared that they will not abide entirely by the traffic light color declared by the federal government.) Below is a guide to what each color means and to the permitted and prohibited activities for each color.

Red/Maximum level

  • Only essential activities will operate (including construction, mining and manufacture of transport).
  • Restrictions on high-risk individuals (those who have a chronic disease or who are obese, individuals older than 60, and pregnant women) remain in place.
  • No school activities.
  • No activities in public spaces.

Orange/High level

  • Essential and nonessential labor activities are permitted but with certain limitations, and always following safety protocols.
  • Some restrictions apply to high-risk individuals (determined by company).
  • No school activities.
  • Activities in public spaces are permitted, but with certain limitations. Activities in closed spaces are completely suspended.

Yellow/Medium level

  • All economic and labor activities may be performed while following safety protocols.
  • Restrictions on high-risk individuals (determined by company) continue.
  • No school activities.
  • There may be activities in public spaces, but with certain limitations. Closed spaces may operate with restrictions.

Green/Low level

  • All educational, labor, economic, and social activities may resume without restrictions.
  • Activities also resume without restrictions for high-risk individuals.

Note: Employers may find it prudent to continue using the hygiene and safety protocols even at the Green/Low level in order to be prepared in case of an audit from the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare.

The federal government has released guidelines for various business sectors and business sizes to assist in the process of reopening. The following illustrations may be useful for employers as they prepare to reopen activities.
Mexico Reopening Plan

Process to establish protocols and mechanisms of sanitary safety for workplaces

Mexico Reopening Process

 Key Takeaways

 Employers with business operations in Mexico may want to take into consideration the following points when assessing risk and preparing to reopen.

  1. Review the Technical Guidelines for Sanitary Safety in Workplaces established by Federal Government.
  2. Establish sanitary safety protocols according to government guidelines, which are mandatory for all industries (essential and non-essential).
  • For essential industries:
    • Perform a self-assessment of sanitary contingency through the established forms by the federal government under the Technical Guidelines, pages 19–30, and complete the self-assessment document on sanitary safety.
    • The company must formalize a “commitment letter” and submit it under the “Company data” tab.
    • Validation will be automatic, and the authority will not issue any resolution.
  • For non-essential industries:
    • Self-assessment is optional.
  1. Review and familiarize themselves with the guidance in order to demonstrate compliance in the event of an inspection by the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, Mexican Social Security Institute, or any other authority.
© 2023, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 168

About this Author

Pietro Straulino-Rodriguez , Labor, Employment, Attorney, Ogletree Deakins Law Firm
Managing Partner

Pietro Straulino-Rodríguez is the managing partner of the Mexico City office of Ogletree Deakins. Before starting at Ogletree Deakins, Pietro worked for a number of years as a partner in private practice at a leading law firm in Mexico City in the firm’s Labor, Social Security and Immigration practice group. Previously he worked for a major labor boutique in Mexico City, in which he participated as an advisor and litigator in several matters. In addition, Pietro worked in the legal and government relations department of Ford Motor Company in Mexico. He has successfully combined his...

Nora M. Villalpando Badillo Employment Litigation Attorney Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart Mexico City, Mexico
Of Counsel

Nora M. Villalpando Badillo joined Ogletree Deakins in July 2019. Previously, she was a partner in a local boutique firm where she led the Labor Practice in consulting and litigation (2019). Previously, she worked in the legal area of labor relations of the telecommunications company Telmex (2011) and prior in an important labor firm in Mexico City as an adviser and litigator. Nora is fluent in Spanish and English.

Practice Groups

  • Employment Law
  • Litigation
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