Mexico says auto plants can restart only “if it is safe”

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Mexico said on Friday, May 15 that it will allow the auto industry to begin restarting operations as soon as Monday May 18th, once companies have safety protocols in place, but the government still hasn’t provided specific requirements.

The nation’s health ministry declared automobile, mining, and construction to be essential industries in a decree published in the country’s official gazette on Friday. It states that companies need to start to implement provisions to protect the health of workers as of May 18 and they can start operations once those protocols are in place.

“This is a goodwill agreement,” the decree said. “If it is not complied with, the companies or industries that put the health of their workers at risk will be closed.”

Mexican auto industry lobbies have been pushing the government to allow the country’s factories to resume production in line with U.S. automakers. Now, companies are waiting to see what the specific requirements will be and if they can quickly restart operations. Health officials say those details may come as soon as Monday.

Detroit is gearing up to reopen auto plants on Monday after they were idled for roughly two months. Scaling up likely will require Mexico’s parts supply chain to get back up and running again. Major vehicle factories in Mexico, including truck factories run by General Motors Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, have been inactive.

Declarations this week by Mexico’s economy minister and its coronavirus czar had sown confusion about whether companies could start operations on May 18 or June 1. Further adding to the doubt, a decree on the issue was published Wednesday on the website of the official gazette, but then taken down. The gazette said in a statement that it had published a preliminary version of an edict by the government’s health council by mistake.

Mexico’s Finance Minister Arturo Herrera said in an interview with local radio late Thursday that the auto sector’s reopening has to follow the rhythm of the U.S., or companies there could seek other auto-parts providers. In April, Mexico’s auto production collapsed by 99% due to the shutdown.

On Wednesday, Mexico’s Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez Gatell said that auto companies, as well as miners and builders, would need to wait until June to function at full capacity. He said companies would be notified of new safety protocols on Monday.

Source: Yahoo News

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