Mexico announces new pandemic-related border restrictions - El Paso Times

Mexico announces new pandemic-related border restrictions - El Paso Times

Mexico announced it is restricting non-essential travel at land ports of entry, mirroring for the first time restrictions applied by the U.S. government for the past year.

The announcement on Thursday came in a Twitter post by Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Relations, or SRE. After one year without restricting entry at land ports of entry, the SRE said:

“To prevent the spread of COVID-19, (Mexico) will impose restrictions starting March 19, 2021, on land transit for non-essential activities at the northern and southern borders.”

Additionally, the SRE said there would be “sanitary controls” at Mexico’s northern and southern borders.

In a news release, Mexico’s SRE said it would consider Mexican citizens and people who work or study in Mexico as “essential,” the same as the U.S. People responding to emergencies or who assist in matters of public health will be considered essential.

It wasn’t immediately clear how Mexico would implement the new restrictions, given that Mexican federal agencies don’t currently stop every southbound person or passenger vehicle that crosses. 

More:A year into border restrictions over COVID-19, where are we now?

Since March 21, 2020 the U.S. government has restricted travel at land ports of entry to non-essential travel. In practice, U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents of the U.S. have been considered “essential” and have been able to cross the border.

Mexican nationals holding a tourist visa have been prohibited from crossing into the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday extended its restrictions on non-essential travel at land ports of entry, which have been renewed every month since March 21, 2020.

The social media reaction to Mexico’s announcement was mixed, with some applauding the restrictions and others criticizing the timing and the government’s approach. Mexico has been slow to vaccinate its people, while the U.S. side is vaccinating roughly 2 million people per day against COVID-19.

“They’re a bunch of liars, Mexico hasn’t restricted its border crossings,” said a Twitter user identifying as Antonio Arroyo. “The Department of State got ahead of (foreign secretary) Marcelo (Ebrard) with the announcement, the decision wasn’t Mexico’s…”

A man heads north in the early hours of the morning on the Paso del Norte bridge, crossing from Juarez, Mexico, into El Paso, Texas, on March 11, 2021.

A Twitter user identifying as @reporterito2 replied to the Mexican government saying, “Really, you aren’t going to let the gringos in because here in Sonora it’s full!!! Take a ride around Puerto Peñasco for Spring Break. They don’t care about the Mexican government.”

The SRE said in its news release that recreational or tourist visits won’t be considered “essential.”

Lauren Villagran can be reached at lvillagran@elpasotimes.com.