San Diego

San Ysidro businesses slow to see sales increase with border opening

Several business owners told NBC7 there are a number of factors contributing to the slow opening at the border: access to FDA approved vaccines, expired visas and backlogged government paperwork.

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Tuesday was the second day of the border’s loosened restrictions on non-essential travel. And while more people are expected to start crossing to and from the border, local business owners tell NBC7 there are still a few hurdles to getting the foot traffic and car lines we've seen in the past.

The border may be open to non-essential travel, but business owners don’t expect a flurry of visitors right away. The worry that lines would be unbearably long, may have kept people from attempting early in the week. Also, business owners in San Ysidro said getting people to cross is more complicated than you might think.

El Rincon restaurant owner Edgar Alanis can’t wait to see his old customers again.  

“People are ready to cross. People want to come here, want to spend their money here,” said Alanis.

His business was busy Tuesday, but he attributes much of that to his focus on attracting San Diego customers. People crossing from Tijuana to the U.S. made up 40% of his business pre-pandemic, he said.

“People in the Tijuana area to cross over here, they communicate between each other. So they’re very aware of how long the line is. Is it worth it?” said Alanis.

And that’s not the only factor possibly keeping business light.

Christian Flores, an owner of Selena Salon Unisex said it’s complicated at the border.

"People, they called me and they said I wish to go but I don’t have my vaccine. Guess what, my visa is from 2021 or 2020,” said Flores.

Flores said many of his customers are dealing with expired visas, backlogged consulates, or are having trouble accessing the FDA approved vaccines needed to come into the U.S.

So Monday wasn’t much different for him.

“Maybe people are scared and they don’t have their visas right. So no I didn’t see anything different to be honest. It was the same. Dark by six and lonely,” said Flores.

He is hopeful though and believes next summer might be when things are closest to pre-pandemic levels.

So is Alanis.

“We’re still open. We are continuing. We have high hopes that the times will be reduced and the border continues to stay open. So we continue to do what we do here as a business in San Diego,” said Alanis.

Doing business with the hope that pre-pandemic traffic comes back.

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