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Bridge closures hurt downtown business owners

One downtown owner says that he has lost about 40% to 50% of sales
Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 10:47 AM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - The international bridges have been closed to non-essential travel for well over a year now -- since the pandemic started -- and, yet, it continues to be a source of frustration for local leaders.

City and state leaders are still expressing disappointment in how international leaders are dealing with our ports of entry.

The bridges remain closed, despite the fact that some businesses are struggling to stay open.

Sanjay Rupani, a downtown business owner, shared his irritation. “I’m kind of disappointed. I hope it opens up soon so we don’t have more of a loss.”

He added, “We’ve been going through a hard time here in the downtown area. As you can see, downtown is -- if you’ve been paying attention to downtown -- it’s dead.”

Mayor Pete Saenz agreed. “This why we’re saddened and disappointed by what’s going on in Mexico and Washington keeping the restrictions and, of course, keeping the bridges closed,” he said.

Since March of last year, international crossings have been shut down, with only certain exceptions, but the absence of patrons has killed business in the downtown area that was once thriving.

Rupani says that he has lost about 40 to 50% sales. He calls it “a big chunk”.

Many businesses have shut down permanently, but those who want to keep things afloat are relying on their faith that things will bounce back.

Another downtown business owner tries to stay resilient, saying, “Now it’s so, so bad, but we have to keep it up.”

Pete Saenz remains optimistic. “We’re working very hard. Our numbers are very low. “ When the time is right, he says the city will be in good position to take advantage. “We’re ready for this, we’ve been ready for this for some time now.”

With more than a half a million deaths in the U.S. behind us, we’re still working towards returning to a sense of normalcy.

A closure of this nature hasn’t happened for over a hundred years -- not since the Spanish Flu in 1918, but the number of people crossing and their means of travel were quite different at that time.

Neither the Mexican or U.S. Government has established when the bridges could open back up or what the protocols would be when they finally do.

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