Mexico shuts down 14 maquiladoras for violating COVID-19 restrictions

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Federal officials conduct inspections after workers express fear of catching the coronavirus

JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) — The Mexican government has ordered 14 U.S.-run factories shut down in Chihuahua state for violating restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Labor Ministry closed down the factories in Juarez, Chihuahua City, Cuauhtemoc and Parral on Monday, after receiving complaints from workers who felt endangered by being made to work in factories performing non-essential work.

Juarez had the highest number of plants shut down after federal inspectors showed up, followed by Chihuahua City. Juarez has been especially hard hit by the virus, with 121 confirmed cases and 32 deaths so far, for an astounding 26% mortality rate compared to the worldwide death rate of 6%.

While management at the factories felt the workers were performing essential duties for the business, the inspectors determined the work and the products don’t fit the definition of essential work that allows some companies to stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are doing these visits to verify whether the work the maquiladoras that are still operating is essential or not,” said Juan Carlos Loera, the ranking federal government representative in Juarez. “Even if they are (essential), they should comply with all the (preventive) measures to address the current health situation responsibly.”

He did not identify the plants nor said how many workers were sent home.

Prior to Monday, more than 100 of the 250 or so U.S.-run plants in Juarez had voluntarily suspended operations due to coronavirus concerns for their workers. The management at most of those plants made arrangements so that their idle workers would receive at least a portion of their salary during the furlough.

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