Note: Traveling during the COVID pandemic is a highly personal choice and should account for your personal comfort, tolerance for risk, and overall health. The conditions, status, and entrance requirements of various destinations are in constant flux, so please check local authorities for the latest information. Also, please review the State Department and CDC’s latest guidelines to ensure you’re ready and able to travel. I was living in Mexico City when the pandemic first hit. Much like the rest of the world, there was so much uncertainty, and I had no idea how the government would respond to the news. Would there be military in the streets like in South and Central America? Or strict lockdowns like in Europe? With travel to Mexico picking up as Americans head out in search of warmer weather, you may be wondering: is it safe to travel to Mexico right now? If you’re planning to travel to Mexico, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Photo Credit: Opening photo by Jess Kraft
Is Mexico Safe?Before we get into COVID-specific information, we should address the safety of the country as a whole. According to The Department of State, there is a Level 4 Travel Advisory in place for travel to Mexico due to a high number of cases in the country. But, that alert is also addressing the rise of violent crime in Mexico. As of the writing of this article, the states of Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Tamaulipas, and Sinaloa are on the “Do Not Travel” list as much for violence as for COVID-19. It should be said that some of these areas (in addition to regions like Sonora, Chihuahua, and Chiapas) have various issues ranging from roadblocks to shootings and armed robberies occurring. However, we can say that the major tourist areas — from Baja California Sur and Los Cabos to Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, and Tulum, to Mexico City, Oaxaca, and San Miguel de Allende — are safe for travelers. We get asked about safety in Mexico so often by our travel clients that we’ve compiled a list of Mexico travel FAQS here that address everything from our best practices and prevention to issues like if visitors can travel at night. And, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any specific questions.
How Has COVID Been In Mexico?Beginning in late March 2020, there was a two-month national lockdown where restaurants and most businesses were forced to close. There was never a curfew, and contrary to other Latin American countries, no fines were given if people decided to leave their homes. (I, for example, made sure to get a walk-in each day.) In mid-December 2020, authorities were forced to announce a new lockdown in the capital due to soaring case numbers and a strained hospital system. By early 2021, Mexico had the fourth-highest death toll in the world and the 19th-highest based on population. While case numbers were reported daily, accuracy was questioned based on limited testing availability and many deaths occurring at home.
What Is The Situation In Mexico Right Now?The truth is restrictions in Mexico have never been too prohibitive, and the government has continued to loosen things up for tourists and citizens alike, making it a very easy country to visit during the pandemic. At the beginning of 2022, Mexico hit a new record number of cases, and the president confirmed he had COVID-19 for a second time. For additional information exclusively on the pandemic, the U.S. Embassy has put together this website. I’ve still witnessed plenty of tourism in recent months, and while traveling during a pandemic is a highly personal choice, know that you certainly won’t be alone if you decide to hop on a plane to Oaxaca for a long weekend of mezcal and mole.
What Are The COVID Restrictions In Mexico?Before you book that flight, you should know that Mexico is handling restrictions on a state-by-state basis. This could influence where you decide to visit. All of Mexico uses a tiered color system called semáforo (traffic light) which indicates how each state is doing in terms of case numbers and hospitalizations. Currently, most of Mexico is classified as orange or yellow, but you can stay up-to-date with the latest restrictions here, which are updated every two weeks. Red (Rojo): The highest risk, it is recommended to quedate in casa (stay at home) whenever possible. Masks are required in all public spaces, and local authorities dictate any restrictions on limitations and operations for businesses and social gatherings. Orange (Naranja): Limited movement is suggested and non-essential travel discouraged. Economic and social events can operate at a maximum of 50% capacity. Face masks are required in all public spaces, including both indoors and outdoors. Yellow (Amarillo): Almost back to normal, economic and social events can operate at 75% capacity. Face masks are required indoors and recommended outdoors whenever social distancing isn’t possible. It is recommended to continue to proceed with caution. Green (Verde): In the lowest risk zone, normal activities are permitted without any capacity constraints. Face masks are required on public transportation and recommended in small, enclosed public places.
What Are The Restrictions For Traveling To Mexico?It is currently quite simple to travel to Mexico from the United States via both air and land. Mexico is open to travelers regardless of vaccination status, and there is no proof of vaccination record or negative PCR test or antigen test required for entry. Nor is there any quarantine required upon arrival. Before you enter the country, the government requires that you fill out this digital questionnaire, confirming that you don’t have any symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has been sick with the virus. (To save time, you can fill out your profile in advance.) Aeromexico has an international flight tool which is a great resource to stay updated on any changes in airline travel restrictions.
Airport Travel Versus Land CrossingAir passengers may be subject to random health screenings upon arrival at the airport, such as temperature checks. Hotels and resorts may also ask you to follow other protocols such as filling out a basic health questionnaire or asking you to wear masks or using hand sanitizer. Otherwise, it’s business as usual. The land border between Mexico and the United States has been reopened to nonessential travel since November 8, 2021, which is perfect for a day of wine tasting in Valle de Guadalupe. While a negative covid-19 test is currently required to re-enter the US from abroad when traveling by air, it isn’t required when walking or driving across the border from Mexico. This also includes entry via Cross Border Express (CBX) in Tijuana. The Mexican government has created a website (in Spanish) entirely dedicated to providing information on the pandemic. If you decide to travel to Mexico, take a look to stay up-to-date on the latest information. I’ll personally be traveling back and forth to Mexico City quite often this year, and can’t wait to get my fix of all the amazing street food the capital has to offer. Whether you’re in the mood to sip margaritas at home for now or hop on a plane tomorrow, there isn’t a wrong way to travel to Mexico and enjoy all the beautiful country has to offer. Just be sure to learn some local slang and follow these essential tips before you go.
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Photo Credit: Opening photo by Jess Kraft