JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) — Mexico begins a gradual economic reopening on Monday, but the state of Chihuahua is observing its own timetable.
On Friday, Chihuahua officials say the state will remain under a “red light” on June 1, meaning people should stay at home except for essential activities.
Social distancing and use of facemasks are still required and buses will continue to run at 50 percent capacity, said Dr. Mirna Beltran, undersecretary of preventive health for the state across the border from Texas and New Mexico.
“People should continue to stay at home. The ‘red light’ means essential activity only. The only (change) is that mining, construction and automotive and aerospace manufacturing are now essential activity,” Beltran said.
That frees U.S.-run factories in Juarez that make parts for Detroit automakers and components for airplanes and helicopters to call back to work 25% of their workforce.
About 60 percent of the manufacturing activity in Juarez is tied to those two industries, El Paso trade experts have told Border Report.
Chihuahua Gov. Javier Corral outlined specific requirements for these plants, known as maquiladoras. These include signing agreements to reengineer their workspaces to allow for social distancing; providing personal protective equipment to workers; arranging for future COVID-19 testing for them; and forming internal health committees.
“On June 1, we are entering a new stage of the fight against this virus,” Corral said on Friday. “This doesn’t mean we are going to relax preventive and sanitary control measures. It means we will begin gradually reopening what we closed, but making sure we’re not putting people’s health and lives at risk.”
Corral said other places in Mexico might choose a more expeditious reopening of the economy. But his state is still seeing a large number of COVID-19 related deaths and new infections.
Chihuahua early on Friday said it had 1,986 confirmed cases and 314 fatalities. Most of the cases (1,412) and fatalities (254) have taken place in Juarez. In El Paso County, Texas, were many of the maquiladora managers live, COVID-19 has claimed 77 lives and sickened 2,623.
Corral said workers will no doubt get sick at work, but if the plants report the infections in a timely manner outbreaks can be prevented.
He said he’s aware that keeping businesses closed is not only going to affect Mexican families’