EL PASO, Texas -- The U.S. border with Mexico is expected to remain closed until at least August 21, the Mexican embassy tweeted this week, extending the ban on non-essential travel between the two countries for another month.
As word of the likely extension spread, downtown El Paso shop owners expressed concern Wednesday about the economic damage already inflicted by the closure.
"If we don't get the people from Mexico coming to the United States, to El Paso, it's going to continue to be slow," said El Paso Street shop owner Jesus Macias. "Especially El Paso street because we do depend on the Mexican trade. We have about 50 percent less customers because of this pandemic."
By mutual agreement, the border has been closed to all non-essential traffic since March.
The closure extension has yet to be officially announced. A State Department spokesperson from the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs told CNN that "we have nothing to announce at this time," adding that, "Mexico remains a strong partner as we work together to combat Covid-19."
Privately, Mexican officials told Politico its government is in no hurry to reopen the border because of fears that the U.S. could send more coronavirus cases to Mexico given the spikes in cases in border states like Arizona and Texas.
According to a CNN analysis, the U.S. currently has the highest per capita death rate from Covid in the Americas, at over 41 coronavirus deaths per 100,000 population.
⚠️ @SRE_mx: Upon review of the development of the #COVID19 propagation, 🇲🇽 has proposed to the 🇺🇸 the extension of the restrictions on non-essential land travel on our common border for 30 additional days.— Embassy of Mexico in the US (@EmbamexEUA) July 14, 2020