Amid a swine flu epidemic, Mexico's government May 1-5 suspended all activities except those related to law and order, health, national security and the news media.
President Felipe CalderÃ³n and Health Minister José Ãngel CÃ³rdova appealed to the public to stay at home during the long weekend, and CÃ³rdova urged the private sector to halt nonessential manufacturing .
The government suspected that the epidemic had killed 168 in the country by April 30, although the cause of death in many cases had yet to be confirmed.
Amid the crisis, Mexico's plastics industry has tried to conduct business as usual.
Things are complicated, but we are still trying to be optimistic, in spite of the [economic] slowdown and virus threat, said Chester Delvalle, managing director of Kem-Design de México S de RL de CV, based in LeÃ³n, Mexico's seventh most populous city.
Kem-Design, part of the Swiss Berlac Group, distributes release agents and coatings and other products to the polyurethane industry.
Raziel Latz, a co-owner of injection molder Compartec SA de CV, located just north of Mexico City, said his firm was working as normally as possible.
We've taken some precautions. We've given everyone a face mask, he said, referring to the company's 160 employees who work in three shifts.
Latz, whose main business is consumer product packaging, said that as a result of the flu scare, absenteeism at the company has risen 10-20 percent.
Eduardo Barberena Domínguez, managing director of mold maker EB y Heise SA de CV of Mexico City, also reported no illness among his 23 employees. But he said the company was taking precautionary measures, such as turning off the air conditioning and opening windows to let in fresh air.
Mexico's National Association of Plastics Industries, Anipac, posted warnings about the outbreak on its Web site, and allowed only three of its 11 full-time employees into its Mexico City offices at any one time.
We're operating in shifts, said Alfredo LÃ³pez Machorro, Anipac's managing director. Those who don't come into the office are working at home.
He added that the trade association has not heard of any plant closures or cuts in production.
The plastics industry in Mexico employs an estimated 150,000.