Alberto Campos Vargas November 23 2022 End of covid-19 pandemic in Mexico for legal purposes Sanchez DeVanny Eseverri SC | Healthcare & Life Sciences - Mexico Alberto Campos Vargas Healthcare & Life Sciences IntroductionRestrictionsNew guidelinesCommentIntroductionMexico, like most countries, was obliged to take various measures to control the spread of the covid-19 pandemic. This was especially relevant due to the lack of necessary infrastructure in Mexico to facilitate access to the health services for the extremely high numbers of individuals who suffered the effects of the illness. However, Mexico was among the last countries to implement the necessary measures and protocols to control the pandemic, likely for political reasons. Many politicians in Mexico, including the Mexican president:downplayed the effects of the pandemic and the necessity to avoid contact and use facemasks;determined that the World Health Organization recommendations lacked enough analysis and background; andpartially informed or misinformed the population in connection with the characteristics of the sickness and actions to be taken.RestrictionsOnce the necessary steps to avoid the wider spread of the pandemic were taken, several restrictions on both private and public places were implemented. At first, only certain specific industries were permitted to continue operations and, in many cases, the number of individuals allowed to be present was restricted or limited in various ways. Some restrictions were implemented by the health and sanitary authorities, while others were put in place by the labour authorities.Due to the restrictions, both private and public entities had to make a considerable number of changes to their operations. Many such changes remain in place, even now that the pandemic has been "officially finalised" in Mexico. Similarly, access to courts and judicial authorities – and even the health authorities – remains limited.Many restrictions were visible and obvious, such as the requirement to wear a facemask in public premises, on public transport and in private offices and workplaces, among other locations. Other not-so-obvious restrictions included:limits on numbers of people in certain locations;requirements to make disinfectants and other hygiene products available; andrestrictions on contact between individuals in the same premises.Since the relevance of the pandemic was recognised by the Mexican government as a health risk only several months after it began, the necessary measures for vaccination were also implemented much later than in many other countries. In some cases, such measures were restricted to certain groups, either by age or location.New guidelinesOn 7 October 2022, the competent authorities – the Mexican Ministry of Health, the Labour Ministry, the Ministry of Economy and the Mexican Social Security Institute – issued new guidelines regarding the protocols that must be followed in any kind of establishment where a considerable number of individuals may concentrate. The guidelines will be compulsory at a federal level and aim to:implement the so-called "Strategies for a New Normality"; andensure labour activities can resume in Mexico in a safe and responsible manner.The guidelines establish various rules regarding the preservation of healthy and covid-19 free establishments and provide a list of actions that must be implemented to avoid the spread of covid-19 in workplaces, personal domiciles, social gatherings and public transport. The guidelines cover:general information regarding covid-19;symptoms and possible prevention alternatives;specific etiquette regarding sneezing and disposing of tissues;the preservation of a minimum distance and contact between individuals;the implementation of plans regarding actions to be taken to avoid the potential spread of the virus (among which are specific actions regarding hygiene, cleanliness and distancing);the provision of approved disinfectant products;the establishment of a constant cleanliness and maintenance plan;covid-19 tests;covid-19 vaccines;facemasks – particularly for use in confined spaces where several individuals may be present;the appointment of an individual or committee in charge of sanitary planning and vigilance within establishments; andthe development of a sanitary safety protocol.CommentAlthough the purpose of the guidelines is laudable, the manner in which they were drafted may result in the potential misinterpretation of – and, in some cases, clear contradictions with – the various obligations regarding health protection included in the General Health Law and its regulations, as well as Mexican official standards and official guidelines issued by the health authorities in connection with health-related matters, health services, health professionals, data privacy and clinical files, among other things.Under the General Health Law, the governmental entity that is responsible for verifying and controlling potential risks regarding human health is the Federal Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risks. However, this entity is not responsible for verifying and implementing the new guidelines. Further, the guidelines impose upon employers various obligations that are not clearly defined and that may contradict data protection requirements, as well as various health-related provisions. The possible risks arising from the implementation of the guidelines from a legal health perspective must therefore be duly analysed prior to their implementation to avoid potential risks.For further information on this topic please contact José Alberto Campos Vargas at Sanchez-DeVanny Eseverri SC by telephone (+52 55 5029 8500) or email ([email protected]). The Sanchez-DeVanny Eseverri SC website can be accessed at www.sanchezdevanny.com.