Any other year, Arizonans would "flock to Mexican beach towns like Rocky Point and San Carlos for the Fourth of July," reports the Daily Star. But this holiday, most will be turned away if they try. Mexico's Foreign Ministry on Thursday announced the country's first border restrictions since the pandemic, following concerns from Sonora health officials over the spread of COVID-19. Beginning Saturday, southbound travelers will be turned away at border crossings between Sonora and Arizona unless they have essential business, per the Daily Star. "We are all going to be on alert at this time to prevent them from coming, whether they are Mexicans living in the US, Americans, or those who want to come to spend the weekend and put a greater burden on us regarding COVID," says Sonora Gov. Claudia Pavlovich.
US authorities issued a continuing ban on nonessential northbound travel in March. But the Mexican government had refused to issue similar directives even as Sonora and other border states struggled to contain outbreaks, per the Arizona Republic. Sonora Health Minister Enrique Clausen petitioned the government to take action on Tuesday, as hospitals in its major cities were packed to capacity. "It's so important to implement the necessary measures to protect the health of Sonorans. And one of them, at this moment, has to be reducing the border crossings from the United States towards Mexico," he said, per the Republic. Pavlovich says travel for essential commerce or health reasons will be permitted. Travelers will also undergo temperature checks and symptom screenings. It's unclear when the restrictions might be lifted. (Read more Mexico stories.)