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By VAYUNAMU BAWA

After more than 19 grueling months of limited interchange along the U.S.-Mexico border, tourists and other nonessential travelers from Mexico will for the first time since March 2020 be allowed to cross into the United States starting on Monday, Nov. 8.

But there are caveats.

All persons 18 and over must present proof of full covid-19 vaccinations status, along with a negative antigen or PCR test result taken within 72 hours of their crossing.

And only vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) will be accepted. Many Mexicans have received unapproved CanSino or Sputnik vaccines.

Moreover, the backlog of travel will no doubt lead to long lines and wait times as authorities will have to verify health documents, in addition to normal passports and other transit papers.

Still, for many Mexican workers who have been unable to cross into the United States since the start of the pandemic, the reopening is a welcome relief, and a promise of renewed economic activity.

And it also represents a financial lift for U.S. businesses desperate for Mexican shoppers.

Around 200 businesses in San Ysidro, California, just north of Baja California, closed in the past year, largely due to the border restrictions.

In fact, Juan Miguel Hornedo of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce said, 80 percent of businesses in the area depend almost entirely on foot traffic coming from Mexico for their survival.

Hornedo also said the sales in the area last year were down to just $250 million, while normally in a good year they would have amounted to about $900 million.

Local Mexican businesses have also been impacted by the border closing.

The closed borders have translated into an uptick in sales for many local Mexican vendors since most people have been unable to cross and make their purchases in the United States. This is now expected to change.

Consequently, the National Chamber of Commerce, Services and Tourism in Hermosillo, Sonora, has actually predicted a 30 percent decrease in its year-end sales.

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