Border Town Sonoyta Installs Health Filters, Urges Tourists To Reconsider Travel
In early July protesters in the border town of Sonoyta, Sonora, turned away U.S. visitors — many on their way to the beach town Rocky Point. Now, protesters have removed their blockade. But local officials are installing their own health checkpoint at the border to discourage nonessential travel during the pandemic.
Southbound tourists crossing the border into Sonoyta won’t be forced to turn around at the town’s new health checkpoint. But they will be asked to rethink nonessential travel, said Mayor Jose Ramos.
"If it's not essential, don't come. I mean, people from the United States are welcome in Mexico, and even more so in Sonoyta, but we're inviting them to reconsider," he said. "They're welcome, but if it's not essential, help us. It's pure humanity, that's what I say."
Ramos said delaying unnecessary trips will help protect the well-being of towns like his, as well as would-be travelers and their families, from the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, especially from those who may have asymptomatic cases.
The new border health checkpoint includes a sanitation tunnel, digital temperature checks and optional rapid coronavirus testing carried out by local and state officials, Ramos said. Travelers will be asked why they are crossing the border, and if they don't have an essential reason, such as medical visits or returning to a place of residence, they will "invited" to reconsider, he said. If they decide to come anyway, they won't be stopped.
Sonoyta is the border town most Arizonans pass through on their way to the beach town Puerto Penasco, or Rocky Point, which has reopened to tourists.