JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) — Juarez on Monday reopened bars, gyms and churches after ordering them shut in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The move came even as the city surpassed 6,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and non-essential international travel remained restricted. In going from a COVID-19 “orange” threat level to the lesser “yellow,” Juarez is allowing bars and night clubs, gyms, cinemas and churches to open at 30% capacity.
Factories that manufacture airplane and auto parts are now operating at 80% capacity. Other factories are operating with 60% of their workforce.
Except for Juarez and nine other cities near the U.S. border, the rest of the state of Chihuahua, Mexico remains under “orange” threat level restrictions.
Juarez Mayor Armando Cabada said the economic reopening would help many small businesses avoid a financial collapse. But he warned that El Pasoans shouldn’t rush to again patronize their favorite bars and eateries south of the border.
“We love you a lot, but if it’s not essential travel, don’t come,” Cabada told Border Report on Monday. He noted that the U.S. government is also restricting the entry of Mexican citizens who are not permanent legal residents to prevent the spread of COVID-19 across the border.
“I’m sure the Downtown (El Paso) and mall merchants miss us. They (the U.S. government) aren’t doing this because they don’t want us, they’re doing it because they want to safeguard our health. We understand that. It’s the same here … we are trying to safeguard our health, too,” the mayor said.
Juarez City Councilor Jacqueline Armendariz said the loosening of restrictions will not only help the city’s economy but also lift people’s spirits.
“This is good for people, psychologically. They are worn down by this situation, so they will take heart by being able to go to church, go to the gym. Of course, we should still take care of ourselves. We should wear the masks, we should use hand sanitizer,” she said.
Chihuahua state health officials said the “yellow” threat level will remain in force for the next two weeks and also cautioned that if COVID-19 cases spike, the tougher restrictions could return.
Juarez on Monday reported 80 new coronavirus infections but no deaths. El Paso on Monday reported one additional death, for a total of 419 since the pandemic began. El Paso also has reported 20,460 positive cases.