Americans living in Baja mull return to the U.S. amid pandemic

Posted at 6:24 PM, Apr 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 21:24:16-04

ROSARITO, Mexico (KGTV) - Americans living in Baja, California, are deciding whether to stay or return to the United States.

This comes after the countries extended restrictions on nonessential travel across their shared border for an additional 30 days.

Robert Smith retired in Rosarito after a long career in law enforcement in San Diego. He tells 10News that most Americans living in Rosarito are taking the stay-at-home orders seriously and they’re taking proper safety precautions.

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“I don't go to the grocery store here in Rosarito without a mask,” he says, adding, “If you go to Home Depot, they limit your distance [and] they suggest strongly to wear your mask.”

This past weekend, a message went out from Christopher Landau, the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico that read in part, "We are now in an unprecedented world-wide pandemic. If you're a tourist in Mexico, it's time to go home."

The U.S. State Department has issued a "Do Not Travel” advisory, reporting that U.S. citizens abroad should return to the U.S. now or prepare to stay in Mexico for an indefinite period.

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Smith says all the Americans he knows are still choosing to stay.

“They live here and this is their home,” he explains.

Several outlets have reported hospitals in Baja being inundated and not having enough supplies as cases are rising. Smith says while concerning, he's merely taking precautions.

“It does. You have to have a contingency plan for everything,” he explains.

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He tells 10News that he'd first try to cross back into the U.S. if he needs immediate medical attention. He says he’s crossed multiple times without issue since the border restriction went into effect.

However, if he can’t get back to the U.S., he says he’ll go to the Red Cross in Rosarito or another local emergency department and wear the proper personal protective gear to mitigate his risk of exposure.