MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico announced steps Tuesday to jump start an economy punished by the swine flu epidemic. Cinco de Mayo celebrations, however, will have to wait until next year.
Events surrounding the holiday remained canceled even though no deaths have been reported for the last five days and the country prepared to reopen for business.
Mexican Finance Secretary Augustin Carstens, who unveiled plans to stimulate key industries and fight bans on Mexican pork products, said persuading tourists to come back will be a top priority as Mexico tries to "immediately rebuild confidence in our country."
Traffic picked up in the capital, fewer people wore surgical masks and some cafes reopened ahead of time Tuesday, the final day of a nationwide shutdown meant to reduce the spread of virus. Flu experts said the tough measures have helped — but some worried of a potential rebound as crowds gather again.
"The scientists are saying that we really need to evaluate more," said Dr. Ethel Palacios, the deputy director of the swine flu monitoring effort in Mexico. "In terms of how the virus is going to behave, we are keeping every possibility in mind ... we can't make a prediction of what's going to happen."
Tuesday's canceled events included Mexico's largest re-enactment of the May 5, 1862, victory over invading French troops in the central state of Puebla. President Felipe Calderon compared the threats in a speech to the nation Tuesday.
"Almost a century and a half later, Mexico is facing a new threat, this time of a very different kind, an unusual threat, specifically the appearance and spread of an epidemic that has put at risk the lives and health of Mexico's families," Calderon said.
After 26 confirmed deaths, nobody has died from swine flu in Mexico since April 29, giving some confidence to restaurants and other non-essential private businesses that were ordered shut for five days.