The border between the US and Mexico will remain closed for 30 more days, at least until August 31, as reported by the US Department of Homeland Security this Wednesday. The Joe Biden Administration has decided to wait another month for the cases of contagion to decrease on both sides of the Rio Grande. Local businesses on the border that suffer from the lack of Mexican tourists waited anxiously for the authorities to announce the reopening today. Since the US closed the road to non-essential travelers due to the pandemic, several restaurants, clothing stores and hotels have had to permanently lower the blind due to the lack of traffic that used to cross on weekends, which has generated losses in the last months of 5,000 million dollars. Mexico has accelerated vaccination at the border to reopen routes as soon as possible, but cases continue to increase and it remains far behind in the rate of immunized people compared to its neighbors in the T-MEC. In the case of Canada, which is on par with the United States in vaccines administered with almost 50% of its population with the full schedule, it has decided to wait and keep the border closed until August, but will allow vaccinated tourists from the United States to pass. .
Covid-19 does not give Mexico a truce. The alpha, delta and gamma variants together with the mobility of tourism have triggered the cases in recent weeks, causing the peak of the third wave. Infections have tripled and hospitalizations are growing accordingly in 83% of the population that has not yet received the full vaccination schedule. Some states, such as Baja California, have 100% of their population with at least one dose, but in others, such as Sonora and Nuevo León, the incidence rate of the virus is in a high range, with between 62 and 66 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, above the national average. Faced with the risks of allowing the passage of people, the United States extended the restrictions on non-essential land travel of people from Mexico and Canada until July 21 to avoid a rebound in covid-19. This Wednesday the authorities will decide whether to allow the passage of people again.
While the authorities await a more hopeful prognosis of the pandemic to reopen the overland crossing, US businesses that survive thanks to Mexican tourism on the border suffer. Before the pandemic and the closure of roads, residents of northern Mexico used to spend weekends in the United States, crossing to make purchases or visiting relatives on the other side of the border, generating an economic flow for hotels, restaurants and local businesses. A study by Rice University and the Baker Institute on Public Policy has estimated the economic impact of restrictions on non-essential travel during 2020 to be as high as $ 4.5 billion. However, with the extension of the US measures, they estimate that the total loss could be as much as $ 10.5 billion for entrepreneurs.
The author of the study, the doctor and researcher José Iván Rodríguez-Sánchez, assures that, despite the aid of the US Government, many businesses have had to close or find another location due to the lack of tourists who used to fill the towns of border. “Many looked for other ways to stay active, shipping with FedEx for example or traveling to other cities, but the problem is that many people were used to crossing to buy or spend the weekend driving,” he says in a phone call from Texas. In contrast, the Mexican economy has increased its income across the border thanks to consumption in local stores. The Confederation of National Chambers of Commerce, Services and Tourism estimates that revenues in Mexican border towns have been $ 2.24 billion.
In an attempt to keep the production industry at the border, the US government has accelerated the vaccination of Mexican maquiladora workers by trucking to the US to get vaccinated with the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The goal is to vaccinate 86,000 workers in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, as reported at a press conference by the president of the INDEX manufacturing and export company, Humberto Martínez Cantú.
While the United States decides whether to reopen the passage of non-essential travelers with Mexico, its northern neighbor has announced that its border will not open until August 9. Canada – which has nearly half its population vaccinated – will initially only allow US citizens vaccinated on the full schedule to pass. Starting in September, it will allow entry to travelers from the rest of the world.
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