Government officials in Sonora, a Mexican state bordering Arizona, set up additional checkpoints across the border over the holiday weekend to prevent unauthorized travel and conduct health checkups for people crossing from the U.S.
In a statement, Sonora Governor Claudia Pavlovich Arellano said the goal was to avoid “people [living in the US] who want to come spend the weekend and will leave us with a greater burden of Covid. ”
The US and Mexico have agreed to close the common border in all irrelevant activities in March. It will remain closed at least until the end of July.
Transitions that are considered crucial, for things like trade or medical obligations, are still allowed.
But Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador told reporters on Friday that there had been a number of recent cases of people moving from Arizona to Sonora for irrelevant reasons. So he agreed to allocate federal resources to help staff with the new checkpoints.
“The government of Sonora guards the border, so that the established rules are respected, but [the rules] they are nothing new, ”he said during his morning press briefing.
Sonoran government officials have reason to worry about the virus spreading from Arizona. The state has recently witnessed a jump in coronavirus cases, recording a record high increase in the total number of cases in the last week, close to 100,000. And ICU units in hospitals across the country are approaching capacity.
Sonoran health officials have reported just over 8,000 cases in the state, but that number has more than doubled in the last month as Mexico’s own epidemic continues to worsen.
In border communities across the U.S. and Mexico, travel across the border and forward is common.
There is an alert in Sonora that a major American vacation, when families travel to gatherings and preparations, could escalate an epidemic in northern Mexico.
Checkpoints will be located at the entrance entrances and along nearby roads and highways. Popular tourist areas will also be monitored.
“We already know which places … Americans usually visit,” said government Pavlovich.
Immigration officials, members of the Mexican National Guard and state police will deploy staff at checkpoints, which will run until Sunday, July 5, the Mexican Consulate in Tucson announced.
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