Mexico restricts land transit on its northern and southern borders as of March 19

The Mexican government restricts non-essential land transit on its northern and southern borders as of Friday in order to contain the spread of Covid-19, the Mexican Foreign Ministry informed on Thursday. "To prevent the spread of Covid-19, it will impose as of March 19 (...) restrictions on land transit for non-essential activities on its northern and southern border," the Foreign Ministry said in a message on Twitter.

The agency indicated that the government "will deploy sanitary control measures in the north and south of the country" and that the restrictions will be in force until April 21. The limitations were implemented since March 21, 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic that in Mexico has left 195,908 dead and 2.1 million infected, according to official figures.

Since that date, the two countries have kept the border of more than 3,000 km closed to non-essential land transit, such as tourists or temporary visitors, but allow the passage of goods, workers, or students. 

For the first time since the health emergency began, Mexico announced this type of limitation with Guatemala, whose border has been guarded since 2019 by elements of the National Guard to stop caravans of migrants seeking to reach the United States.

The restrictions announced by the Mexican government also coincide with an increase in the arrival in the United States of migrants, mainly Central Americans, fleeing violence and poverty in their countries. These caravans began to be blocked in 2020 by security forces, both in southern Mexico and Guatemala.

The government of Joe Biden expects, however, that the arrival of migrants at the border with Mexico will reach a 20-year high, amid difficulties in accommodating minors traveling alone. In February alone, 100,000 people were detained trying to enter the country. The growing problem forced Biden this week to directly ask migrants "not to come" during an interview with ABC News.

What Hugo Lopez-Gatell said about the closing of the southern border

The Undersecretary of Prevention and Health Promotion, Hugo Lopez-Gatell, said in an afternoon press conference that the Mexican government did not close its southern border, but only restricted mobility to essential travel.

In announcing the progress of the disease in the country, the public official explained that the decision was taken in coordination with Guatemala, Belize, and other Central American nations with the aim of reducing the mobility of people and thus mitigating the spread of the coronavirus disease.

This is the approach, it is not a border closure, we must emphasize this, it is a binational collaboration with Guatemala, Belize, and with the other Central American nations, with whom we have also talked, in order to reduce the mobility in non-essential activities.

He also indicated that the measure announced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) responds to two main issues: the first is the increase in local migratory flows from Central America, and the second is the possibility, given the experience on the northern border, "of establishing protocols in which the restriction of non-essential activities is prioritized, but the continuity of essential activities can be considered", commented the Undersecretary.

According to what was reported this morning, the mobility restrictions on the southern border will be in effect until next April 21.

"To prevent the spread of #COVID19, will impose as of March 19, 2021, restrictions on land transit for non-essential activities on its northern and southern border.

Additionally, the @GobiernoMX will deploy sanitary control measures in the north and south of the country. Restrictions to non-essential transit and sanitary measures will remain in force until 23:59 hrs. on April 21, 2021″, said the agency headed by Marcelo Ebrard on his Twitter account.

It is worth mentioning that the partial closure of land transit with the United States was a determination that was taken since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, on March 18, the U.S. government announced that border restrictions with Mexico and Canada would remain in force.

"To prevent further spread of COVID-19, and in coordination with our partners in Canada and Mexico, the United States is extending non-essential travel restrictions at our land borders through April 21, while ensuring continued flows of essential trade and travel," the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said on social media.