SAN DIEGO — The decrease of traffic at the U.S., Mexico border due to the coronavirus pandemic travel restrictions has led U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials to make changes to operational hours for vehicle SENTRI lanes at Otay Mesa.
The new operating hours for SENTRI vehicle lanes will be 4 a.m. to 10 p.m.
SENTRI members will be able to use the Ready Lanes at the crossing, designated for travelers with RFID-enabled documents.
On April 20, the U.S., Mexico, and Canada agreed to extend restrictions on non-essential travel across their shared borders for an additional 30 days.
CBP officials said the week of March 2 compared to last week, there was a 43% decrease in vehicle traffic and a 69% decrease in pedestrians.
“We had previously scaled staffing at the nearby San Ysidro port of entry because of significant drops in traffic volumes,” said CBP Director of Field Operations for San Diego, Pete Flores.
The week of March 2 compared to last week there was a daily vehicle crossing average more than 42,000 vehicles. There was also an average decrease pedestrians crossing, with a daily average of almost 14,000.
“Continued decreases in traffic has necessitated adjustments at the Otay passenger border crossing to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure to our workforce and to enable us to devote resources to combating the criminal element that may try to take advantage of the crisis to further their illegal enterprises, such as outbound inspections," said Flores.
U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents and certain other travelers are exempt from the restrictions on entry at U.S. land borders. These individuals will receive the same processing, evaluation and potential CDC medical screening that all entrants undergo at U.S. ports of entry.
Essential travel includes, but is not limited to:
- U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States;
- Individuals traveling to receive medical treatment;
- Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions;
- Individuals traveling to work in the United States;
- Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes;
- Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (truck drivers);
- Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel;
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces, returning to the United States; and
- Individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said there would be no changes to the cargo/commercial facility at the port of entry hours.