Disappointment grows as border restrictions remain in spite of massive drive to vaccinate citizens

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A man wearing a protective masks to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 rides a bike near San Ysidro port of entry to the US, in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on April 18, 2020. (Photo by GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP via Getty Images)

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TIJUANA (Border Report) — Essential travel restrictions were extended for another month Wednesday, and those requirements are expected to remain in place through Aug. 21 when the White House and Department of Homeland Security will determine if another extension is warranted.

These restrictions have been in place since March of last year, preventing people from entering the U.S. for shopping, travel or other leisure activities.

DHS put out a statement yesterday saying, “As a way to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including the Delta variant, the United States has extended restrictions for non-essential travel on land and via ferry with Canada and Mexico.”

Edgar Ramirez, an official with DHS based in Mexico City, said the U.S. had no choice but to extend the restrictions.

“The U.S. government will continue to coordinate with Mexico’s government looking for a way to relax the restrictions as soon as conditions allow it in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for now, people should avoid land border crossings unless traveling for what’s considered essential reasons,” Ramirez said.

Also, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that crossing the border to get vaccinated is not considered acceptable criteria to be allowed into the U.S.

“The current situation does not allow entry for shopping, for a trips, or to go visit family on the other side of the border,” Ramirez said.

The decision to continue with the restrictions was met with disappointment from the governor of Baja California, Jaime Bonilla, and from many business owners in border cities such as Tijuana.

Bonilla said his state met a vaccination-rate mandate set by the U.S. that should’ve triggered the elimination of the restrictions. He has said 72 percent of the population has been vaccinated.

In recent weeks, politicians from north of the border had been lobbying Washington to lift the restrictions as a way to help businesses in border communities such as San Ysidro, where the local chamber of commerce said 187 businesses have gone out of business since the pandemic began and the restrictions were put in place.

It estimates that 90 percent of clients who shop along a stretch of San Ysidro Boulevard near the port of entry are from south of the border, people who still cannot gain entry into the U.S.

“The return of Mexican consumers and others living in Mexico is critical especially for the tourism, hospitality and retail sectors,” said Kenia Zamarripa, director of foreign affairs with the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

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