Border businesses, already hurting, prepare for purple tier

Posted at 6:06 AM, Nov 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-13 09:06:07-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Like so many businesses throughout San Diego County, businesses along the border in San Ysidro are also preparing to scale back operations because of the state's COVID-19 purple tier.

Businesses in the border region have already seen a significant decline in business because of international travel restrictions currently in place. Since March, the border has been closed to all tourist travel, only open for essential needs, like going to work or getting medical care.

Tuetano Taqueria is one of the businesses affected. Just blocks from the border, its owners are doing everything it can to stay open. The trendy taco shop is run by Fernando Covarrubias and his wife, Chef Priscilla Curiel. During the initial stay-at-home order, the couple had to lay off their employees and run the business themselves.

The taqueria was recently honored, making the Michelin Guide, famous for it's tacos served with the option of bone marrow on the side. Now, the owners are getting ready to scale back to takeout orders because of the purple tier restrictions.

According to the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce, from March to July, roughly 100 businesses closed permanently. Jason Wells, the chamber's executive director, said the border travel restrictions are devastating the region.

Wells said all businesses in the area are hurting, but retail has taken the biggest hit. According to Wells, about 95% of customers in the area are from Mexico.

Wells explained that most of the businesses along the border make their biggest profits during the holidays, and the state's purple tier isn't helping. If the border travel restrictions continue, Wells thinks more businesses will not survive.

Covarrubias and his wife are hoping people will follow the health guidelines so COVID-19 case rates go down and business can get back to full operation. Despite their struggles, the couple is working on opening a second business in National City, called Mujer Divina, a coffee shop that will also serve burritos.

Purple tier restrictions take effect Saturday at midnight. Border travel restrictions are in place until Nov. 21, but could be extended.