CALEXICO — Effective today, all non-essential travel across the U.S. and Mexico border will be temporarily restricted to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced Friday.
This includes the west and east ports of entry here, as well as the Andrade port of entry in Winterhaven.
“Non-essential” travel includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature.
“Everyone else is not expected to have any difficulties,” Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard told reporters in Mexico City. “We’re not talking about closing it.”
The temporary restriction began at 12:01 a.m. today throughout the U.S.-Mexico land border, and will be enforced for a period of 30 days subject to extension upon review.
This suspension of entry does not apply to U.S. citizens or Legal Permanent Residents entering the United States from Mexico.
They will receive the same processing, evaluation, and potential CDC medical screening that all entrants currently undergo at U.S. ports of entry, a Customs and Border Protection spokesperson stated.
There will be no ban on commercial traffic, or on people traveling between the countries for work or for other essential activities such as medical appointments or to pursue education, the Associated Press reported.
CBP officials say a long list of “essential” workers will be unaffected going to and from their jobs, including farm workers, restaurant and grocery store employees and bus drivers.
That list includes those who work in communications, emergency services, information technology and healthcare and public health, among other fields.
This restriction comes as part of a joint initiative between the United States and Mexico, a Homeland Security news release stated.
The initiative was created after both countries agreed to the need for a dedicated joint effort to prevent spread of the novel coronavirus, and to address the economic effects resulting from reduced mobility along its shared border.
The U.S. and Mexican governments further recognize critical services such as food, fuel, healthcare and life-saving medicines must reach people on both sides of the border every day.
“Additionally, we are encouraging people to exercise caution by avoiding unnecessary contact with others,” the release stated.
This initiative comes after five confirmed cases — four in Mexicali and one in Tijuana — of COVID-19 have been found in Baja California.