Residents of the town of Sonoyta, across from Lukeville, Arizona, briefly blocked the main road leading south from the U.S. border over the weekend over fears of coronavirus outbreaks.
Arizona has seen a major upsurge in infections and there were worries about intensified contagion during the July 4 weekend.
The mayor of Sonoyta, Jose Ramos Arzate, issued a statement Saturday “inviting U.S. tourists not to visit Mexico.”
Local residents organized to block the road with their cars on the Mexican side Saturday.
Video posted by residents showed several travelers complaining that they had a right to cross because they were Mexican citizens. The road is the quickest route to the seaside resort of Puerto Peñasco, also known as Rocky Point.
Ramos Arzate wrote that people from the United States should only be allowed in “for essential activities, and for that reason, the checkpoint and inspection point a few meters from the Sonoyta-Lukeville AZ crossing will continue operating.”
“We had agreed on this in order to safeguard the health of our community in the face of an accelerated rate of COVID-19 contagion in the neighboring state of Arizona,” Ramos Arzate wrote. “It is our duty as municipal authorities to protect the health of our town.”
Mexico and the United States agreed previously to limit border crossings to essential activities, but up until this week, that had mainly been enforced for people entering the United States, not the other way.
Residents of Sonoyta demanded health checks on incoming visitors, better health care facilities and broader testing.
There has been some resentment that tourists, but not local residents, had reportedly been allowed into Puerto Peñasco, where many banks and other services are located.