CBP: “Be prepared for increased wait times” International bridge restrictions set to be eased Monday

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Come Monday U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials say to plan and prepare for long wait times at the international border crossings. November 8, will be the first time vaccinated non-citizens can cross the border for the first time since March 20, 2020.

One woman who crosses regularly is anticipating it will take hours to cross Monday morning.

“Three to five hours on Monday, that’s why I came today, on Monday I’m not coming,” said Maria Bernal.

Bernal says she’s not the only one from her family who has been crossing.

“My grandaughters come to work and my son as well, so what do we do? It’s a lot of people, it’s a high demand…”

The acting El Paso Port Director Ray Provencio says having enough manpower to open all lines on the bridge is not doable.

“What do we anticipate for Monday, of course, I’m going to staff appropriately but we can not sustain say a heightened, there’s been requests of are you going to open all lanes for 24 hours, we cannot sustain,” said Provencio.

Adding to the wait times is the additional documentation required to cross: Proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

CBP asks travelers to have all required documents and be prepared to verbally say if they are vaccinated, why they’re crossing, and have proof of vaccination to move the line along quickly.

“You should be prepared for increased wait times, and like I said it’s a shared responsibility, we have the responsibility to ensure lawful trade and travel occurs while at the same time the traveling public that comes up should be prepared to present the request documents as well,” said Provencio.

The only proof of the following COVID-19 vaccines will be accepted at the ports of entry: J&J, Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Covidshield, Sinopharm, and Sinovac.

“Whatever they’re able to provide us proof whether it’s a QR code or maybe it’s some type of printed medical document or some other type of printed document, our officers will be reviewing upon request,” said Provencio.

While the reopening means longer wait times, an El Paso taxi driver says he’s hopeful it will mean more business for him.

“We have to get a better business after this coming Monday also for people who have their own businesses in downtown all the store’s, restaurants all kinds of stores. I believe it’s going to be better for all of us over here…”

Mario Soto, Downtown Taxi driver.

Restrictions on border travel were put in place on March 20, 2020, and were extended every month as a way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 between countries.

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