GM instructs Mexican suppliers to prepare to resume operations

(Reuters) – The president of General Motors Co’s (GM.N) Mexican unit advised suppliers to prepare to resume operations after the Mexican government said the automotive industry could exit the coronavirus lockdown before June 1 with adequate safety measures.

“We are now beginning a new phase given the Mexican government’s official announcement earlier this week to consider the transportation manufacturing industry as essential for the country’s economy,” Francisco Garza, president ofGeneral Motors de Mexico, wrote in an email to suppliers dated on Friday that was viewed by Reuters.

Noting the Mexican government is due to publish final safety rules on Monday, Garza added: “Once those final guidelines are known, we will be in a position to move swiftly to comply.”

GM is tentatively planning to restart operations at its auto assembly plant in the Mexican city of Silao on Wednesday, according to a message to workers seen by Reuters on Sunday.

Workers at the plant in the central state of Guanajuato that has been idled for weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak had previously been told to plan to return to work on Monday.

A GM spokeswoman said the company could not confirm when it would restart operations at any of its facilities in Mexico because it is awaiting more guidance from the government.

The government’s announcement, made on Friday, means that automakers from as early as this week can begin reconnecting supply chains between Mexico and the rest of North America, which depends heavily on parts made south of the U.S. border.

Senior U.S. politicians and auto companies had pressed the Mexican government to reopen factories.

Some politicians are wary, however, of opening too fast. Mexico registered its first case of the coronavirus weeks after the United States and Canada and the toll of daily infections and deaths in the country reached new peaks over the past few days.

Mexico has registered 49,219 cases of the coronavirus and 5,177 deaths.

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