Friday, December 1, 2023

Mexico issues updated COVID-19 guidelines; face masks no longer required

The federal government has published new COVID-19 guidelines advising that the use of face masks shouldn’t be obligatory in outdoor and indoor spaces.

The Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) drew up the Guidelines for the Healthy Continuation of Economic Activities in the face of COVID-19, and the document was reviewed and authorized by the government’s “New Normal Committee,” made up of IMSS officials and the Health, Economy and Labor ministries.

The government advises that the use of face masks shouldn’t be obligatory in open spaces where people can maintain a “healthy distance” from each other but recommends wearing one outdoors if social distancing isn’t possible. It offers the same advice for enclosed spaces.

The government also recommends the elimination of the use of tapetes sanitizantes – “sanitizing mats” placed at the entrance to shops, restaurants and other businesses – and filtros sanitarios, health checkpoints where people are screened for COVID, usually via temperature checks.

Temperature check
The new IMSS guidelines also has implications for procedures in schools, which have enforced mask rules and other sanitary protocols. SEP

“It’s important to mention that there’s no evidence that disinfectant mats work so their use is being withdrawn. They shouldn’t be used!” the new document states.

It also says that employers can’t force employees to take COVID-19 tests or prevent them from working – dismiss them, in other words – if they are not vaccinated against the disease.

“Workplaces may carry out tests … with the consent of workers … [but] in no case should the taking of a test be mandatory in order to return to work,” the document says.

While the government recommends vaccination against COVID, it states that a person’s vaccination status “mustn’t be a determining factor [used to] stop people from carrying out their work activities.”

Also among the new guidelines are a range of “general measures” to mitigate the spread of COVID, such as washing hands frequently and covering one’s mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

The government says that the guidelines in its new document should be applied “at a national level in all workplaces.”

Their objective is to “establish specific measures … for the continuation of work activities in a safe and responsible way.”

Publication of the new guidelines comes over two and a half years after the coronavirus pandemic began in Mexico. The government initially decreed a national social distancing initiative – a quasi lockdown that wasn’t enforced – to combat COVID, but the disease nevertheless quickly took hold across the country in the first half of 2020.

Remembrance wall
Memorial to lost loved one lost left at the Guadalupe Basilica’s remembrance wall for COVID victims in Mexico City. The nation ranks fifth for total COVID deaths and 32nd for per capita deaths, with 258 fatalities per 100,000 people, according to John Hopkins University. Victoria Valtierra Ruvalcaba/Cuartoscuro

After five waves of the disease, Mexico has now recorded more than 7 million confirmed cases and over 330,000 COVID-related deaths, figures that are considered significant undercounts, mainly due to a lack of testing. There are currently just over 5,500 active cases, according to Health Ministry estimates.

The country ranks fifth for total COVID deaths after the United States, Brazil, India and Russia, and 32nd for per capita deaths with 258 fatalities per 100,000 people, according to data compiled by John Hopkins University.

Mexico News Daily

Have something to say? Paid Subscribers get all access to make & read comments.

Tulum international airpot

New Tulum airport opens with 5 daily domestic flights

President López Obrador flew in to inaugurate the highly-anticipated new airport on Friday, which is expecting 700,000 passengers in its first month.

Mexican hostage Ilana Gritzewsky released from Gaza

One of two Mexican citizens abducted from Israel by Hamas militants on Oct. 7 has been released from Gaza.

2 Mexican cities move up the most in global cost of living ranking

The Economist Intelligence Unit survey of 173 world cities cited the strengthening peso as one reason for the dramatic upward move for the two cities.