TUCSON — The Mexican customs agency announced on Monday that it will shut down operations indefinitely at the pedestrian-only crossing in Nogales and limit service at the commercial truck crossing at Arizona’s busiest gateway to Mexico.
The moves strike another blow to local cross-border commerce over concerns about the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Restrictions implemented in the past month already have led to dozens of layoffs from U.S. businesses dependent on shoppers from Mexico.
A travel ban on nonessential travel along the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as new measures calling for people to stay at home, have greatly reduced cross-border traffic. Many businesses have closed their doors.
On Monday, senior U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in Arizona said that their counterparts in Mexico, the Servicio de Administración Tributaria, or SAT, had notified them that they would be closing indefinitely the Morley pedestrian crossing, along Nogales’ historic downtown.
The closure follows a decision by SAT last week to shut down operations on Sundays for the cargo processing facility at the Mariposa port of entry.
Those restrictions likely will impact the more than 2,000 trucks that cross the border through Nogales daily, carrying mostly fresh fruits and produce bound for overwhelmed supermarkets around the United States.
Nogales Mayor Arturo Gariño said the full impact on the city is unknown. He issued an emergency declaration March 21 that will allow Nogales to tap into federal or state funds to help the city cope with an expected downfall in sales-tax revenue, one of the primary sources of income for city coffers to keep services going.
The city is still crunching numbers to assess the potential impact and determine how much money they’ll need to make up for expected losses from COVID-19 and the restrictions at the border for an undermined period of time.
“It’s pretty unique here. It’s different than Tucson trying to recover from the virus,” Gariño said. “We’re going to have to recover from the virus, from the border closure, and then what Nogales, Sonora, and what the government is doing over there.”
Source: azcentral.com, elpasotimes.com
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