Given the exponential increase in cases of Covid-19 in the state of Arizona, the government of Sonora and Mexico’s National Immigration Institute (INM) installed checkpoints at the border to prevent non-essential crossings from the United States into Mexico over the July 4 holiday weekend.
But they were withdrawn Tuesday in spite of the original plan to leave them in place until July 20 in accordance with an agreement between the United States and Mexico to restrict tourism and recreational travel. However, it was an agreement that saw little enforcement south of the border for inbound traffic.
The temporary closure of the border in Sonora ended even as Arizona remains an epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. On Friday morning, officials reported 4,221 new cases of the coronavirus in the state in the past 24 hours.
Restrictive measures had been taken at the border crossings in Agua Prieta, Nogales and San Luis Río Colorado, but state authorities made an exception at the crossing between Lukeville, Arizona, and Sonoyta, Sonora, where tourists who had hotel reservations at the beach town of Puerto Peñasco were allowed entry.
That did not sit well with Sonoyta residents, who decided Saturday to protest and temporarily blocked the highway leading into their town, through which beach-bound tourists must pass.
The protesters expressed their concern about the lack of health services in their community and the risk of an outbreak posed by travelers.
The Mexico and U.S. governments announced travel restrictions in mid-March and then extended them in May and June. A further extension into August is likely, Foreign Minister Ebrard said on Thursday.