Mexico Sees Widespread Noncompliance With Business Closures

Apr 16, 2020
9:24 AM

Carmen Castellanos, 54, wears a protective face mask and face shield as she makes change for a client holding her hand through a protective sheet of plastic hanging over the counter, at El Foquito, the hardware and electric supply store she owns with her brother in the Benito Juárez district of Mexico City, Wednesday, April 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s coronavirus point-man said Wednesday there has been widespread non-compliance with orders for all non-essential businesses to close.

Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell said those firms that don’t comply would be inspected, fined and possibly subject to criminal investigations for endangering the health of employees.

While there have been widespread reports that border assembly plants known as maquiladoras had failed to close during the pandemic, López-Gatell cited only one border state —Baja California— as having a high level of non-compliance.

Videos of walk-outs and protests at assembly plants have circulated on social media in recent weeks.

But López-Gatell said the problem was centered more in Mexico’s industrial central region.

In all, 18% of firms in Mexico are considered essential and are allowed to stay open. López Gatell said 50% of those that were supposed to close did so, but about 32% of the remaining companies initially failed to close.

Of that one-third, about half closed after being warned, while the other half continue to operate.

Auto and auto-parts plants were about one-quarter of the plants that failed to close; stores and distributors represented about 21% and textile businesses represented about 18%.

Mexico has 5,847 confirmed coronavirus cases and almost 450 deaths.