EL PASO, Texas -- As of Saturday, Mexican border restrictions were officially in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Only essential travel is allowed between Mexico and the U.S. for the foreseeable future.
Essential travel includes individuals traveling for medical purposes, attending school or engaged in trade, like truck drivers, among others, according to a regulation notice published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (You can read the full document below)
What's being curtailed is tourism and recreational trips. While any U.S. citizens or permanent residents currently in Mexico will be allowed back into the U.S., officials said all undocumented migrants will be turned away.
The economic impact of the restrictions could be severe as the Mexico border region is the fourth largest manufacturing sector in North America.
While no one knows yet exactly how great the affect will be locally, one expert from UTEP believes it will be retailers who take a hit.
Tom Fullerton, a professor of economics and finance, said that before the virus outbreak at least $1.2 billion in retail sales exports were anticipated in El Paso in 2020. Now, that number may be closer to $960 million or less.
The Borderplex Economic Outlook to 2021 projected nearly 7.5 million pedestrians would cross into El Paso, but that could drop to 5 million. And the 11.8 million drivers crossing the border could fall to 8 million.