EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — The state of Chihuahua, across the border from Texas, has shut down all non-essential businesses effective immediately to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Gov. Javier Corral Jurado made the announcement late Monday night, shortly after his state recorded a sixth case of coronavirus, this one in the state capital of Chihuahua City. Juarez, directly across the border from El Paso, has recorded four of those cases. Neighboring New Mexico issued a similar order on Monday and El Paso city and county are going into lockdown of non-essential activity at 11:59 p.m. tonight.
“We’re entering another stage of necessary actions starting today and until April 20 to protect the health of our population,” Corral said in an online announcement. “We are suspending all sporting, recreational, social and cultural events, whether private or public. Cinemas and theaters, museums and events centers, gyms, bars, restaurants, casinos and shopping centers must close, except for those that sell (essential items).”
Corral said he’s also asked all churches to suspend activities and urged families to stay away from public spaces, such as parks.
In addition to grocery stores and supermarkets, Corral is allowing businesses involved in the production of food and other essential consumer items to continue to operate as long as the employees observe social distancing and workplace cleanliness recommendations.
It wasn’t clear if maquiladoras, the U.S.-run plants that employ hundreds of thousands in Juarez and Chihuahua City would be affected by the order. But migrant shelters will be authorized to continue operations, he said. At last count, the federal government shelter housed more than 400 asylum seekers and other migrants, as did Casa del Migrante, the largest of the church-run shelters. Good Samaritan shelter hosted more than 100.
Corral said hospitals in his state are prepared to cope with an outbreak of COVID-19, which he stressed hasn’t yet reached critical proportions there.
“We must be disciplined and responsible. Staying home, maintaining personal space reduces the spread of the virus. This will also allow our hospitals and physicians to make the best use of resources. This will save lives tomorrow,” the Governor said.
Earlier, the United States and Mexico had imposed travel restrictions that led to steep drops in cross-border traffic and commercial activity, particularly in Mexican-shopper heavy Downtown El Paso.
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