President Felipe Calderon ordered government offices and businesses not essential to the economy shut down for five days from Friday and told people to stay indoors as Mexico fights a deadly and spreading flu virus.
“There is no safer place than your own home to avoid being infected with the flu virus,” Calderon said on Wednesday in his first television address to the Mexican people since the flu crisis broke last week.
He wants all government offices and private businesses that are not crucial to the economy to stop work from May 1-5 to avoid further infections.
The government said supermarkets, food stores, hospitals, financial services firms, telecomunications and public transport businesses and other essential services would operate normally, but other companies will be asked to close up and some government ministries will shut their doors.
“What we are looking for is for this to be as wide as possible so it can have an impact on the objective of breaking the reproductive cycle of the virus in the widest possible way,” Finance Minister Agustin Carstens said.
Mexico City has already been running at half-steam for the past few days with bars, restaurants, museums, cinemas and gyms all shut down, while all schools and archeological sites are closed across the country.
Although the extended shutdown ordered by Calderon will last for five days, the period includes a weekend and the May 1 public holiday.
Mexico’s economy is already being slammed by the effect of so many people staying home with their purses shut.
A series of travel warnings by foreign governments is also expected to slash Mexico’s tourism income. Even before the flu scare began, Mexico was in a recession.