DOUGLAS — The Department of Homeland Security has announced that the ban on non-essential travel through border crossings with Mexico and Canada due to the COVID-19 pandemic, have been extended yet again.
The travel ban aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus was first imposed in March and has been extended six times since. The latest extension was due to expire this Friday, Aug. 21 but will now expire on Sept. 21 unless another extension is put in place.
“We continue to work with our Canadian and Mexican partners to slow the spread of COVID-19,” acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said on Twitter. “Accordingly, we have agreed to extend the limitation of non-essential travel at our shared land ports of entry through September 21.”
When the travel restrictions were first imposed, Wolf said “Examples of essential travel include but are not limited to” travel for medical purposes, to attend educational institutions, for emergency response or public health purposes, and for “lawful cross-border trade.”
Port officers at the Douglas Port of Entry have allowed U.S. citizens and green card holders to cross the border since the restrictions took effect, They have also turned away some Mexican citizens who hold tourist visas.
“The restrictions at the border that only allows essential travel is affecting city tax revenues,” Douglas’ Management Services Director Luis Pedroza said. “We are getting fewer crossings, which means fewer visits to our stores and restaurants. On the upside we are experiencing a lesser impact on sales tax than originally thought. We have seen a 12% decrease in sales taxes from April through May, much less than the 37% that we expected due to COVID and restrictions at the border.”
Pedroza stated that although not at the same rate as pre-COVID, visitors and shoppers from Mexico are still making their way to our shops.
“Another help are the 400 plus employees for the border wall contractor that are working and living in and around Douglas,” he said. “This is also reflected in the increase in rental sales tax revenues that we have seen in the past few months. Finally, due to COVID travel restrictions and overall concerns, residents are choosing to stay at home and shop local.”
The United States has reportedly experienced a recent surge in COVID-19 cases with more than 5.2 million infections, more than any other country in the world.