Coronavirus fears lead Mexican town to block road from US border

Local residents blocked the road on the Mexican side with their vehicles

Fears of coronavirus outbreaks in the U.S. led the small Mexican town of Sonoyta across from Lukeville, Ariz., to briefly block the main road leading south from the U.S. border over the weekend.

The closure came as Arizona confronts a major upsurge in infections and amid new worries of intensified contagion during the Fourth of July weekend.

Sonoyta’s Mayor José Ramos Arzate released a statement Saturday “inviting U.S. tourists not to visit Mexico.”

Cars belonging to local residents blocked the road on the Mexican side Saturday.

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In this July 29, 2010, file photo, a U.S. National Guard vehicle guards covered under camouflage fabric sits atop a mountain next to the border fence near Sonoyta, Mexico. (AP Photo/Guillermo Arias)

In this July 29, 2010, file photo, a U.S. National Guard vehicle guards covered under camouflage fabric sits atop a mountain next to the border fence near Sonoyta, Mexico. (AP Photo/Guillermo Arias)

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 said the U.S. citizens should only be allowed in “for essential activities, and for that reason, the checkpoint and inspection point a few meters from the Sonoyta-Lukeville crossing will continue operating.”

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“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.”

Sonoyta is part of Sonora, where there are more than 9,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, the Arizona Daily Star reported Monday. State health officials have warned that hospitals are at capacity in Nogales and Guaymas, which includes the popular beach resort of San Carlos.

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In March the U.S. limited crossings from Mexico due to the coronavirus.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.