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What the border reopening for nonessential travel Nov. 8 means for South Bay businesses

More than 200 businesses in the San Ysidro area have closed since the start of the pandemic

SAN DIEGO — Starting on Nov. 8, fully vaccinated people can cross the Mexico and Canada borders into the United States for nonessential travel. This loosening of restrictions comes just in time for the holiday shopping season.

“I really hope it picks up business,” said Melanie Alvarado. "It’s a family-owned restaurant.”

Melanie Alvadro and her husband own Fish Mart Pescaderia & Algo Mas in San Ysidro. On Monday, she said she hopes these upcoming relaxed restrictions at the border mean more customers.

”It’s still not back to normal,” said Alvarado. “So we’re hoping in the next few months hopefully we’ll get back to normal, but it’s been challenging so far.”

But, Alvarado said she is still bracing for challenges. She said many of her employees cross the border from Baja California into the U.S. to come to work, and she worries an influx of travelers could mean more traffic at the already backed-up border.

"They do arrive late all the time. So now that I think everybody’s going to be crossing the border, it’s going to be even more challenging for people to come to work,” said Alvarado.

Earlier this month, the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce reported $1.25 billion in lost sales, all attributed to COVID-19 restrictions. 

Even closer to the border is Achiote Family Restaurant. Assistant Manager Sofi Arellanes said more than half of its customers come from south of the border. 

”People visit us by plane, by car,” she said. “They usually come to visit us.”

She’s also concerned about traffic, but overall thinks it’s another step toward normalcy.

”Most of the time, it’s going to be good, because they’re going to start their lives again,” said Arellanes. “With the pandemic and the other restrictions that maybe they had, I think it’s going to be good.”

According to SANDAG, tourism was one of the most hard-hit industries within the first year of the pandemic. Travelers will be asked to provide proof of vaccination when crossing into the United States for nonessential travel.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is hosting a virtual press briefing on Tuesday, Nov. 2 to discuss further details on the announcement that travelers who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and have appropriate documentation will be permitted to enter the United States.

WATCH RELATED: Supervisor Vargas writes letter in hopes to help border businesses impacted by shutdown 

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