Mexico, October 13th, 2022.
On October 10th, 2022, the New Normality Committee comprised of the Ministries of Health, Labor and Social Welfare, Economy, and the Mexican Institute of Social Security («IMSS» for its acronym in Spanish), announced Guidelines to safely continue Economic Activities because of Covid-19 (hereinafter the «Guidelines»).
Guidelines apply at a national level and establish the following general recommended measures to reduce the risk of getting Covid-19 in the workplace:
- Favor a healthy distance of 1.5 meters between individuals.
- Provide dispensers with 60% alcohol-based solutions at different points in the workplace.
- Ensure that restrooms have adequate and clean conditions for use of personnel.
- Favor natural ventilation in common spaces or spaces with a higher concentration of personnel.
- Review operation and maintenance of ventilation systems and ensure filter changes for proper operation.
- Refrain from using disinfectant mats.
Guidelines include the following in relation to the application of Covid-19 tests, vaccination, and use of face masks.
- Covid-19 tests.
Antigen and PCR tests are possible, but not compulsory nor with charge to personnel.
In any case, prior consent of the employee must be obtained and return to work must not be conditioned to taking a test.
It is voluntary and should not be a condition to prevent employees from performing work related activities in the workplace.
- Face Masks.
Use will not be mandatory in open and closed spaces if maintaining a safe distance of 1.5 meters is possible.
Use is recommended in open and closed spaces if it is not possible to maintain safe distance, or in closed spaces that are not ventilated or have restricted ventilation.
Use can be omitted by people not sharing a physical workplace, for having meals and in case intense physical work is performed.
The use of face masks is suggested for individuals who decided not to get vaccinated or that are immunologically compromised or work in a poorly ventilated workplace.
Positions with high exposure to known or suspected sources of Covid-19, such as health care employees or those who perform procedures that generate aerosols, must use N95 masks or its equivalent and use gloves, medical gown, and eye protection.
For these purposes, companies may distribute face masks among their staff, supervising the correct use, fully covering the nose and mouth and avoid the use of masks with valves.
Furthermore, Guidelines include a checklist of health and safety measures that are recommended to be implemented in the workplace. These include, among others, the following:
- Appointment of a committee or person responsible for the correct implementation, monitoring and supervision of recommended measures.
- Use of face masks on public transport and verify that employees using these means of transportation wash their hands with an alcohol-based solution of at least 60% before entering the workplace.
- If recommended, verify correct face mask use fully covering the nose and mouth.
- Inform staff about established prevention measures and have a training program on actions to be carried out in the workplace. IMSS online educational platform may be used for this purpose (https://climss.imss.gob.mx/).
- Have a questionnaire to identify Covid-19 symptoms.
- Avoid establishing policies that conditions access to work to taking Covid-19 tests financed by staff.
Guidelines leave without effect so-called Technical Guidelines for the Reopening of Economic Activities published in Official Federation Gazette on May 29, 2020.
Updated guidelines establish recommendations and suggestions and work center’s obligations are limited to compliance with measures that are deemed statutory (i.e. condition return to work to getting vaccinated or apply tests with charge to employees and without their consent). If work centers are subject to an inspection from an authority, they must demonstrate full compliance.
The Partners and Associates of our Labor and Social Security Law practice group are available to comment in more detail the content of this note.
S I N C E R E L Y,
Jorge De Presno