Restrictions on non-essential travel at the U.S.-Mexico border will be yet again extended by another month, just as they were set to expire Wednesday night, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Since March 2020, restrictions were imposed on non-essential travel to and from the border due to the coronavirus pandemic and after several extensions, that guidance was set to expire just before midnight Thursday.
Now, those restrictions will be extended through 11:59 p.m. Aug. 21 unless amended.
"Given the outbreak and continued transmission and spread of COVID-19 within the United States and globally, the Secretary has determined that the risk of continued transmission and spread of the virus associated with COVID-19 between the United States and Canada poses an ongoing 'specific threat to human life or national interests,'" a document submitted on the Federal Register said.
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The closure has posed challenges to small business owners in San Ysidro and Tijuana as the border towns faced a significant decrease in tourism. They have held out hope that with COVID-19 vaccines available to residents on both sides, the non-essential travel restrictions would be lifted so businesses could welcome back customers.
According to the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce, nearly 200 businesses have gone out of business since the closure went into place. Jason Wells, Executive Director of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce, said the region averages about $895 million in annual revenue during a typical year. In 2020, however, that figure fell to $250 million.
“I don’t want to get out of business, to be honest,” said Olivia Campos, who owns a shoe shop on San Ysidro Boulevard. She told NBC 7 her business has seen a 50% decrease in revenue since the travel restrictions went into place, forcing her to cut her employees’ hours.
“I’ve been doing this my whole life,” Campos said. “I don’t know what else to do.”