Towns along Arizona’s border with Mexico are being hit hard as the coronavirus takes a toll on business. With a lower amount of traffic coming across the border companies are on the brink of bankruptcy. One restaurant in Nogales has already seen a 70 percent decrease in sales.
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NOGALES, Ariz. — With recent closures of the border due to the coronavirus outbreak — and social distancing guidelines that limited travel — communities along the U.S.-Mexico border say they are feeling the impact.
While businesses across the countries are hurting, the pain is particularly acute for businesses along the U.S.-Mexico border that depend on Mexican shoppers and merchants to survive.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey earlier this month implemented major changes across the state in the fight against COVID-19. He ordered bars, and restaurants — except for delivery or take-out orders — and well as movie theaters, and gyms closed.
Earlier this month, President Trump declared a partial closure of the southern border, closing off ports of entry to non-essential travel in an effort to combat the coronavirus.
The lack of customers means some local businesses along the border are on the brink of bankruptcy.
Owner of City Salads in Nogales Juan Vasquez says he’s seen a 70% decrease in sales since the Coronavirus outbreak (Juan Vasquez/City Salads).
“It’s been tough, it has been really tough,” Juan Vazquez, owner of City Salads in Nogales, told Fox News. He said the business is still open but he’s only allowed to sell take out or delivery.
“I can say a 70 percent decrease in our sales, so we’re barely hanging on, we haven’t paid our rent,” Vasquez added.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection told Fox News that normally, around 23,487 vehicles and 19,127 pedestrians travel across Arizona’s ports of entry each day. That’s now down by more than 50 percent since the border closed to non-essential travel. The number of vehicles is down 56 percent at about 10,367 vehicles a day and pedestrian traffic is down 63 percent with about 7,037 people a day.
That has basically shut down a border that is usually bustling with thousands of people who cross it daily to shop, work or do business.
The Nogales-Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce is working with small businesses in the area to help them sign up for disaster relief loans.
“Businesses are seeing an immediate decline of 90 percent drop in their consumer activities… the consumers in Mexico are the ones that keep alive this community,” said Olivia Ainza-Kramer with the Nogales-Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce.
Additionally, banks are working to deliver loans to small businesses as part of the federal Paycheck Protection Program, established by the recently signed stimulus act. The program will allow banks to lend up to $10 million to small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
Towns along Arizona’s border with Mexico are being hit hard as the Coronavirus takes a toll on business. With a lower amount of traffic coming across the border companies are on the brink of bankruptcy (Stephanie Bennett/Fox News).
Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino said that while the federal government’s decision to close the border was the right thing, his city depends a lot on the visitors from Mexico.
“Could be anywhere from 60-75 percent of the sales tax comes from the floating population that comes across from the border every day and that’s not only affecting us it’s affecting Tucson, too…the recovery could take months,” he said.
He added: “What the President did in closing the border that’s also proper because we have an employee population in any given day of over 100,000 people that come across back and forth so the influx of that could create people traveling that could have the virus that you don’t know.”
On Monday, Ducey announced a “Stay at Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected” order which will take effect Tuesday night at 5 p.m. local time. It will last until April 30th for all non-essential activity.
Like many businesses in Arizona, City Salads in Nogales can only serve take-out or delivery orders (Juan Vasquez/City Salads).
In the meantime, Vasquez said he will continue his to-go orders for as long as he can. His employees are taking turns working to help save money.
“I think we can survive a month but that’s just positive thinking you know if there’s a shutdown, if there’s a lockdown, if they say you cannot be outside I will have to shut down,” said Vasquez.
Fox News’ Nicolas Bermudez contributed to the report