Christmas arrived early from the border region.
Traders and elected leaders celebrated Wednesday after the long-awaited announcement of reopening non-essential travel at the Mexico-US border, after it had been inoperable for 19 months.
“Restrictions at our borders for far too long have separated families and destroyed businesses that depend on cross-border trade,” San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has confirmed that travel restrictions at the land borders of Mexico and Canada will be lifted in November, allowing non-essential activities, such as tourism and visits by family members, for travelers to enter the country. Fully vaccinated.
“Cross-border travel generates significant economic activity in our border communities and benefits our economy in general. We are pleased to be taking steps to resume regular travel in a safe and sustainable manner,” said Homeland Security Minister Alejandro Mallorcas.
The restrictions were first imposed in March 2020 due to the pandemic and have been extended every month since then.
The authorities agreed that the decision could not have come at a better time given the approaching holiday season.
“This announcement will allow businesses in the region to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Christmas shopping, as well as travel at this time,” Gloria said.
From March 2020 to March 2021, more than 200 companies closed in San Ysidro, representing a loss of 1,900 jobs, according to the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce.
Jason Wells, director of the Chamber of Commerce, said about 60 percent of companies in San Ysidro make most of their profits for the year during the season that runs from November 20 (a holiday in Mexico) to January 6 (the Day of the Three Kings).
For this reason, he was relieved that the reopening of the borders is scheduled for next month. “Most of the businesses that opened today would not have been successful without another holiday season.”
Carlos Guerrero, owner of Elite Tactical in San Ysidro, agreed he did not initially believe the news of the border reopening in November, as he used to hear it every month only to be disappointed each time another extension was made. announced.
But knowing that there was an official announcement by the US government, he couldn’t hide his excitement, because a month and a half ago he had chosen to change his business from Chula Vista to San Ysidro in the hope that his work would be better once he reopened the borders.
Guerrero sells tactical gear, boots and holsters, among other accessories, which were generally purchased by police officers who made the trip from Mexico.
“I hope sales will go up a lot, both with Mexican customers I’ve had before and with new ones, because I’m now closer to the line,” Guerrero said.
Once the borders reopen, Wells said, the business recovery period will begin.
Provincial Superintendent Nora Vargas has introduced a resolution asking the federal government to provide economic opportunities for businesses and communities impacted by these travel restrictions.
“We have an urgent need to identify an economic stimulus for these families, communities and businesses,” Vargas said in a statement. “I urge the federal government to carefully consider and establish emergency economic sustainability zones to directly revive our border communities. It is time to give us a fair chance of full economic recovery.”
Wells appreciated Vargas’ efforts and was confident that there will be a speedy recovery for local businesses, as long as the delays at border crossings do not present a new disturbance to the region’s binational dynamics.
“As long as they really open the borders and keep delays low, our companies can do the rest,” Wells said.
Mayor Todd Gloria said upon his return from Washington, D.C., where he took up the border issue, that he had been notified by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that they were still experiencing staff problems due to the pandemic.
“Wait times are still very long, and it could get worse as more people are allowed to cross,” Gloria said, adding that she would continue to require the federal government to provide necessary personnel at ports of entry.
The US authorities have specified that the restrictions will be lifted in two stages.
First, in November, DHS will begin allowing fully vaccinated travelers to enter the country by road for non-essential reasons. Proof of vaccination will be required.
Second, starting in early January 2022, the federal agency will require that all foreign travelers be fully vaccinated, regardless of whether the reason for their trip is essential.
In this way, it seeks to allow sufficient time for essential travelers, such as truck drivers, students and health workers, to be vaccinated, DHS authorities said.
For his part, the President of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, opened his daily press conference, Wednesday, with the recognition of the US government’s decision to reopen the borders.
The northern border has been opened. We will have the normal situation on our northern border.”