EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The Mexican government has asked U.S. authorities to extend non-essential international travel restrictions for another month.

UPDATE: U.S. and Mexico keeping border travel restrictions through Jan. 21

“After reviewing developments regarding the spread of COVID-19 in both countries – and because various states are on orange (threat level) – Mexico proposed to the United States the extension by one month of non-essential land traffic in our common border,” the Mexican Foreign Ministry said late Wednesday in its official Twitter account.

The Ministry said the restrictions will remain in place as implemented back on March 21. That’s when both countries decided that unrestricted border travel would lead to a further spread of the coronavirus.

The restrictions will remain in place through 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 21, 2020, the Ministry stated.

Once confirmed by U.S. authorities, the announcement is likely to disappoint American border merchants who rely on Mexican shoppers for their Christmas sales.

Downtown El Paso merchants have told Border Report their sales are down between 70% and 90% since the travel restrictions went into effect. U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents can still go back and forth for business and essential errands, but Mexicans with tourist visas in most cases cannot.

Some of the merchants had expressed hope the restrictions would be lifted after the U.S. elections. But, politics or not, the coronavirus continues to rage on both sides of the border, with El Paso and neighboring Juarez, Mexico being prime examples of this. Both cities have combined for 957 COVID-19 fatalities in the past month and both are observing overnight non-essential activities curfews to reduce the spread of the virus.

The Ministry’s announcement drew criticism on social media from Mexicans who complain that no one is stopping Americans from coming into Mexico.

“This is not containment for Mexico. Access remains unlimited from the U.S. to Mexico, including for non-essential trips,” posted Octavio Angulo.

Others posted photos of northbound lines of vehicles bound for U.S. ports of entry.

“Why don’t they restrict access to American citizens, given that border cities on the U.S. side have the most COVID-19 cases? It’s incongruous that only Mexican citizens are restricted from crossing into the U.S.,” tweeted Erik Zavalata.

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