The United States and Mexico are extending restrictions on nonessential travel across their shared border for an additional 30 days to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The move comes on the heels of a similar announcement of an agreement with Canada over the weekend.
U.S. Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement the decisions were made “in close collaboration” with the neighboring countries.
“As President Trump stated last week, border control, travel restrictions and other limitations remain critical to slowing the spread and allowing the phased opening of the country,” Wolf added.
Mexican officials said the decision, which extends the border clampdown through May 19, was reached “after reviewing the development of COVID-19 propagation” in the two countries.
The temporary closure was first put in place on March 21 and does not target the crossing of merchandise. People with temporary work visas, emergency personnel, students and those travelling for business are also still allowed to enter the U.S. However, the partial ban places stringent limits on tourism and shopping for people from California to Texas.
The U.S. has more COVID-19 cases than any other nation in the world. As of Monday, there were 761,991 reported cases. Meanwhile, Mexico has reported only a fraction of that with just 8,261 cases. But the country’s ratio of deaths to confirmed cases is among the highest in Latin America, suggesting that the country, which was slow to react to the global pandemic, lags behind in coronavirus testing.
On Sunday, the newspaper El Norte reported the outbreak in Mexico City, which is the epicenter of the disease in the country, will likely soon overwhelm the health care system, saying many of the city’s hospitals are near or at capacity.
Officials in Mexico declared a state of emergency on April 1, which will remain in effect through the end of the month.