As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 spreads throughout Mexico, the federal government is directing more states to ramp up efforts to contain the virus, including directing Aguascalientes to allow only essential activities—the first time since last September that any state has operated under the country’s red traffic light pandemic control measures, the most stringent according to the national four-tiered COVID-19 monitoring system.
Nine states, including all of the northern border states and Quintana Roo on the Yucatán Peninsula, are operating under orange traffic light status (high risk), one step down from red status. The biweekly system was implemented in June 2020, and it is used to alert residents to the epidemiological risks of COVID-19 and provide guidance on restrictions on certain activities in each of the country’s states.
Below is a map for the period of January 24–February 6, 2022, indicating the COVID-19 risk level in each of the states and the capital.
This chart presents the traffic light status of each state, and, as applicable, variations between federal and local traffic light statuses based on publications of the federal Ministry of Health and status reports provided by each state. Some of the nation’s thirty-two states have implemented their own monitoring systems, and therefore may impose restrictions that vary from the federally designated status restrictions. For example, the government of Tamaulipas has imposed red-status restrictions, even though the federal government designated the state in yellow status, meaning that all work activities are permitted, but with measures taken to reduce the risk of infection among people at high risk of developing severe COVID-19–related symptoms.
COVID-19 Sick-Leave Subsidy
The Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) recently relaunched a program that provides individuals who have contracted COVID-19 with a “COVID-19 Permit,” which beneficiaries can use to take leave from work and receive a sick-leave subsidy from the IMSS. Individuals who have contracted the virus and who are symptomatic are entitled to take seven days of subsidized leave. Individuals who have received a positive test result but are not displaying symptoms are entitled to five subsidized days of leave. Individuals whose leave is approved by the IMSS must notify their employers to justify their absences from work.
Pandemic Key Indicators and Vaccinations
Since the start of the pandemic, 308,141 people have been confirmed to have died as a result of COVID-19, although the estimated total could add more than 14,000 more deaths, according to the government’s COVID-19 data, updated on February 2, 2022. More than 5 million cases have been confirmed since the pandemic hit Mexico, of which 199,413 are currently active.
The federal government is also reporting data showing increasing vaccinations: of the nearly 83.4 million people over the age of eighteen who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, 93 percent have received the complete vaccination schedule, the Ministry of Health stated in its Daily Technical Report, released January 25, 2022.
The Ministry of Health also stated on January 28, 2022, that its vaccination strategy is being applied “based on the highest priority,” with senior adults, health personnel, and people with immunocompromised conditions in the first tier of individuals to receive doses.
Mexico City Returns to Yellow Status
On January 21, 2022, the government of Mexico City announced its decision to change its traffic light status to yellow, after operating in green status since early November 2021. The government stated that “in a responsible effort to continue with the economic recovery of the city, economic activities will not be closed,” but advised people to continue wearing masks and to wash hands frequently, among other recommendations, in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Finally, the Administrative Verification Institute, along with other Mexico City government authorities, will continue to visit businesses to verify compliance with the general and specific sanitary measures for workplace health protection. The authorities may levy fines against employers found to be out of compliance with the health and safety measures. Noncompliant employers may be subject to the total or partial temporary suspension of work centers for up to fifteen calendar days. Noncompliant employers may also be subject to other applicable sanctions.
Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and will post updates in the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.