JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) – Juarez is no longer under an overnight or a weekend curfew, but health officials are still urging people to stay home and avoid the spread of the coronavirus.

“We are still on red (threat level) through Sunday. The state Health Council is meeting to determine what happens” on Monday, said Dr. Leticia Ruiz, head of prevention services in the state of Chihuahua.

Officials said the 7 p.m. through 6 a.m. nightly curfew – and the Friday night through Monday morning lockdown of the past two weeks – were lifted as the number of COVID-19 cases has been trending down after a brutal week in which more than 200 people died from complications of the virus.

Still, the city reported 23 new COVID-19 fatalities on Friday and more than 300 new infections. Across the border, El Paso, Texas, reported 22 fatalities of its own.

Juarez Mayor Armando Cabada on Friday told reporters non-essential businesses will remain closed and police would continue to break up private parties and urging motorists not to be out and about late at night if they don’t have to.

But at least one supermarket chain – S-Mart – has announced its stores would resume operating 24 hours a day.

The loosening of restrictions comes as people prepare to do their Christmas shopping. However, Ruiz said it has not been determined to what extent retailers would be allowed to operate.

Dr. Leticia Ruiz

“Our hospitals have very little margin to support (a spike in COVID-19 cases),” she said, adding that mass sales events have the potential to increase the spread of infection. Hospitals in Juarez were at or near capacity at the start of the week.

However, she said any decision on an economic reopening rests with the Health Council.

Meantime, border travel restrictions remain in force and U.S. authorities are urging American citizens and legal permanent residents not to go to Mexico for non-essential activities.

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