EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Juarez has drastically curtailed occupancy and hours of operations at most businesses – including bars and restaurants – through the end of the month. City leaders say this is a preemptive move given a spike in COVID-19 cases throughout the state of Chihuahua.

Retail stores, malls, eateries and venues where alcohol is sold will have to close by midnight and not allow occupancy to exceed 50 percent, State Health Department Director Felipe Sandoval said. The restrictions went into effect on Monday and will remain in place through Oct. 31, he said.

“These are actions that will quickly allow us to go back (to normal). We know that people are counting on the end-of-year economic activities … so we will do our best to return (to normal) by then – with the cooperation of the people – so we can have that adequate economic activity,” Sandoval told Border Report.

Juarez has reported 3,918 coronavirus-related fatalities and 34,970 cases since the pandemic began. The tally in the state of Chihuahua is 8,069 deaths and 79,870 cases.

But cases have been creeping up throughout the state in the past four weeks, said Dr. Leticia Ruiz, head of preventive medical services.

“We have seen a constant, steady rise in active cases involving all ages, particularly among those 18- to 29-years-old. We are still seeing fatalities primarily among those 60 and over with comorbidities” such as diabetes and hypertension, she said.

Juarez Mayor Cruz Perez Cuellar said he’s analyzed the Health Department’s data and it shows COVID-19 contagion remains low in his city. Nonetheless, the restrictions apply to Juarez and its businesses are the most likely to be affected by the early closings and reduced occupancy, his staff said.