SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) -- Restrictions on non-essential travel between the U.S. and Mexico will remain in place through Aug. 21, the Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday.
DHS officials tweeted: "To decrease the spread of COVID-19, including the Delta variant, the United States is extending restrictions on non-essential travel at our land and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico through August 21, while ensuring the continued flow of essential trade and travel."
The agency followed up with: "DHS is in constant contact with Canadian and Mexican counterparts to identify the conditions under which restrictions may be eased safely and sustainably."
According to DHS, "essential travel" includes but is not limited to:
- U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States
- Individuals traveling for medical purposes (e.g., to receive medical treatment in the United States)
- Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions
- Individuals traveling to work in the United States (e.g., individuals working in the farming or agriculture industry who must travel between the United States and Canada in furtherance of such work)
- Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes (e.g., government officials or emergency responders entering the United States to support federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial government efforts to respond to COVID-19 or other emergencies)
- Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers supporting the movement of cargo between the United States and Canada)
- Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces, returning to the United States
- Individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations
In March 2020, the U.S. and Mexico mutually agreed to shut down the border due to the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. and Canada also agreed to restrict non-essential travel at the onset of the pandemic.
This extension is taking a toll on businesses at the border. Jason Wells, the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, said 1,900 people have lost jobs because of the border restrictions.
"I represent 650 businesses at the world's busiest land border crossing. One hundred and ninety-seven have had to close their doors for good," said Wells.
Many of the small stores in San Ysidro see foot traffic from people crossing over, keeping their businesses alive. With fewer people crossing, they're getting less business. Timothy Moreno, an employee at clothing store Coqueta, said the shop went from bustling to dead in the span of a year and a half.
"I just want to see everything go to normal again. I hope the border opens early," said Moreno.
Chicano Federation President and CEO Nancy Maldonado echoed the impact this is having on businesses and people. She said right now, their goal is to encourage people to get vaccinated so coronavirus can no longer be used as an excuse to tighten restrictions.
"This has real-life impacts on peoples wellbeing, on their ability to travel, on the ability to see family and their ability to do the things they want to do every day so it’s not necessarily just every individual making a decision that’s just going to affect them, these decisions affect a lot of people," said Maldonado.