DOUGLAS — Officials with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have announced that the ban on non-essential travel through border crossings with Mexico and Canada has once again been extended, now to Oct. 21.
The travel ban, which is aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus, was first imposed in March. The latest extension was due to expire on Sept. 21.
“It is disappointing that the border crossing limitations have been extended,” Douglas’ Mayor Donald Huish said. “I believe that our community has taken sufficient measures that would allow the border to open. The financial impact on City revenue will continue to be a burden. In speaking with a local assistant port director, we were assured that they are doing all they can within their organization directives to facilitate essential crossings. They have increased lane openings during peak crossing times, added additional hours to process Sentry applications, and dedicated additional personnel to commercial truck inspection to facilitate quicker crossing times for commerce.”
Raul Montano, owner of Border Mart, three blocks from the border, states it has been a struggle to remain open but he’s optimistic that things will turn around.
“I’ve been through worse,” he said. “We’ll get through this. I know this has really impacted the city in sales tax.”
Montano estimates his sales are down roughly 35 percent from last year.
“We’re tightening the belt just like everybody else,” he said. “We’re going to battle and hang on.”
Bureau of Transportation numbers show that crossings have fluctuated since the restrictions were first implemented.
July’s border crossing numbers for the Douglas Port of Entry show that just six bus passengers crossed into the U.S. in July down 72 from the previous month; and 33,833 pedestrians crossed over, down 1,742 from June. The July pedestrian crossing numbers are the second lowest this year, with April showing the lowest at 23,275.
Also in July, 109,497 personal vehicles crossed, up 830 from June but still down significantly from the 198,559 that was recorded in January, 190,627 in February, and 152,362 in March
Commercial truck traffic crossings increased from 829 in June to 866 in July. In March 1,018 commercial vehicles crossed the border which was the highest number of crossings this year only to see those numbers decline to 696 in April and 802 in May.
“The restrictions at the border that only allows essential travel is affecting city tax revenues,” Douglas’ Management Services Director Luis Pedroza stated. “We are getting fewer crossings, which means fewer visits to our stores and restaurants.”
In Arizona, the COVID-19 numbers were 214,251 confirmed cases with 1,887 in Cochise County. In Douglas there were 19 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Tuesday. The two week test positivity rate in Cochise County is down to 2.2%.
The new case rates per week in both Arizona and Cochise County continues to decline, the Cochise County Health Department is reporting.