HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The United States announced it has lifted travel restrictions allowing borders to reopen to non-essential travel and to those who are fully vaccinated. However, some Rio Grande Valley officials said this was long overdue.
“While the rest of the country was reopening after the first months of the pandemic the border communities have not been allowed to do that,” said Eddie Treviño Jr., Cameron County Judge and Chairman of the Texas Border Coalition.
Judge Treviño said they had been trying for over a year to lift the restrictions along the border, restrictions he said destroyed businesses around RGV communities.
“It’s killed a lot of our cross-border trade and in that instance, it’s hurt and decimated our local businesses both the larger ones and the smaller ones especially the family-owned ones, and some of them didn’t make it through,” he said.
Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez is optimistic it will bring more traffic to our area and help the businesses that are still standing, stating reopening the ports of entry is good news for the community.
“I think you are going to see many industries see the increase in revenues now that this is available,” said Cortez.
Hidalgo and Cameron County have seen a drop in COVID-19 cases, but both judges said there is always a concern about another outbreak.
“If we’re limited to those that are vaccinated we’re limited to those that can prove to them that they are not carrying the disease then I’m really not anticipating an uptick,” said Cortez.
Travelers must be fully vaccinated to be allowed into the U.S. Judge Treviño said. They are in the process of asking U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security to create a program for those who are not yet vaccinated.
“Get more people along the border vaccinated because we’ve got the surplus of vaccines available so we should be utilizing that to help our brothers and sisters on the Mexican side,” said Treviño.
Treviño and Cortez shared while the pandemic is not over, this is a big win for border communities. While there is no set date for when the travel ban restrictions will be lifted, White House officials announced it will take place in early November.