BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — In early November, non-essential travelers from Mexico will be allowed to visit and shop in the U.S. This is after 18 months of border closures and COVID-19 hospitalizations in the RGV falling below 5%.

Fully vaccinated visitors will be allowed into the U.S. on November 8. 

Representative Henry Cuellar said border economies were hurting this time last year due to not having shoppers from Mexico.

“We were getting 18 million Mexicans that would come in and spend $19 billion,” he said.

Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez said the city as a whole was able to successfully sidestep the losses and actually saw an increase in sales tax revenue this year despite the loss of international shoppers.

“It’s a great year for Brownsville, we’ve done fantastic economically, but I know it’s going to get even better this coming year and this is the start to that,” Mendez said.

Non-essential travelers are being let back into the country because COVID-19 cases are low enough and vaccination rates are high enough for travel to be safe.

COVID-19 hospitalizations are down below 5% again in the Rio Grande Valley’s hospital systems, and cases are dropping from their peak in September.

“It’s a big impact and it’s something that we’ve really been pushing for. I’ve been pushing for this since the beginning of the year since we saw the COVID numbers start to decline and the trend was very positive in favor of safety,” Mendez said.

The city of Brownsville has been dealing with asylum seekers and COVID-19 precautions since January, something Mendez said has prepared them to allow non-essential travelers into the city safely.

“We’ve been testing everyone for COVID, we’ve been providing immunization for COVID, for several months. We’ve tested tens of thousands of people so the public’s safety has never been a huge concern for us,” he said.

People traveling into the U.S. need to be fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the FDA or the World Health Organization.

Congressman Cuellar said there are two main reasons travelers are being let back into the U.S.: To allow those shoppers to spend money and help border economies that are hurting and to let families who haven’t seen each other for almost two years be reunited for the holidays.