On March 20, 2020 travel restrictions came into force restricting movement across the US-Mexico land border —the busiest land border in the world— due to the Pandemic. The restriction order, that was due to expire on April 20, has been extended for a further 30 days.
The Mexico-US land border has not been “closed” but travel across it is now said to be “restricted” with “non-essential” crossings prohibited.
According to a legal document published as a Notice on the US Federal Register, “essential travel” (permitted crossings) is defined as:
- U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States;
- Individuals traveling for medical purposes (e.g., to receive medical treatment in the
- Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions;
- Individuals traveling to work in the United States (e.g., individuals working in the farming or agriculture industry who must travel between the United States and Mexico in furtherance of such work);
- Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes (e.g., government officials or emergency responders entering the United States to support Federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial government efforts to respond to COVID-19 or
- Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers supporting the movement of cargo between the United States and Mexico);
- Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel;
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the spouses and children of members of the U.S.
- Armed Forces, returning to the United States; and
- Individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations.
According to the Notice, the following activities do not fall under the definition of “essential travel” and are prohibited:
- Individuals traveling for tourism purposes (e.g., sightseeing, recreation, gambling, or attending cultural events).
The document goes on to state that:
“At this time, this Notification does not apply to air, freight rail, or sea travel between the United States and Mexico, but does apply to passenger rail and ferry travel between the United States and Mexico. These restrictions are temporary in nature and shall remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. EDT on April 20, 2020. This Notification may be amended or rescinded prior to that time, based on circumstances associated with the specific threat.”