Summer Fun South of the Border
Mexico continues to be one of the most accessible international destinations in the time of COVID-19 as it remains one of the few places where visitors aren't required to provide proof of a negative coronavirus test to gain entry. Flights have resumed, and marquee hotel and resort properties have reopened more than one year into the pandemic, with many offering discounted rates and special perks as well as added flexibility and peace of mind for guests. Before you travel to Mexico this summer, here are some things you'll want to know.
Latest Travel and Health Advisories
Mexico was among the dozens of countries around the world elevated to a Level 4 travel advisory by the U.S. State Department in April. "Do not travel to Mexico due to COVID-19," officials advised in an April 20 update. "Exercise increased caution in Mexico due to crime and kidnapping." Despite issuing its highest level for the country overall, the department simply advises that Americans exercise increased caution in some of the country's most popular tourist destinations, including Baja California Sur (Los Cabos) and Quintana Roo (Cancun and Riviera Maya), additionally stating that there are currently no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in these regions. The State Department's Level 4 warning reflects the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Level 4 Travel Health Notice for Mexico, which indicates a very high level of COVID-19 in the country. As of May 10, Mexico has reported nearly 2.4 million COVID-19 cases and 219,000 deaths.
Foreign travelers will need a valid passport to visit Mexico this summer, of course, but they won't require a negative COVID-19 test result or proof of vaccination. Visitors will have to travel by air or sea, however, as the U.S.-Mexico land border remains restricted to essential travel until at least May 21. Visitors should be prepared to answer questions about their health status and recent travels as well. "Passengers and aircrew members arriving at Mexican airports may be subject to health screenings including temperature checks," the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico states. "Those exhibiting symptoms may be subject to additional health screening and/or quarantine."
Return Home COVID-19 Testing
Since January 26, the CDC has been requiring all air passengers age two and over entering the United States—including U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents—to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test result taken within three calendar days of departure or proof of recovery from the coronavirus within the last 90 days. Airlines are responsible for confirming the negative result or proof of recent recovery prior to boarding and are required to deny boarding to passengers who do not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery. Fortunately, many hotels and resorts throughout Mexico are offering guests convenient on-site COVID-19 testing that they can schedule at or shortly after check-in. In most cases, testing is free or at least affordably priced, and some resorts are even footing the bill for any guests who test positive and require quarantine.
Vaccines, Enhanced Health and Safety Measures
While the number of vaccinated Americans grows so does the number of vaccinated residents and tourism employees in Mexico. Earlier this spring, Quintana Roo Governor Carlos Joaquin Gonzalez revealed that 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses had been ordered for tourist workers and were expected to be delivered between April and May while, more recently, the Mexican government announced plans to provide vaccinations to all adult residents within five popular tourism destinations ahead of summer. Beyond vaccinations, airports, hotels and resorts, taxis, restaurants, shops and other travel suppliers and tourist businesses began implementing elevated health and safety protocols more than a year ago. Visitors will continue to notice face masks, social distancing markers, capacity limits, plastic barriers and omnipresent hand washing and sanitizing stations as part of the new normal. Airports, hotels and other places are also conducting temperature checks on employees and arriving guests and spacing out lounge chairs, restaurant seating and other gathering spots to ensure visitors are met by a safe environment.
How To Travel
People displaying COVID-19 should postpone any travel plans to Mexico, and the CDC also recommends delaying international travel until you are fully vaccinated against the virus. The agency advises fully vaccinated travelers to continue wearing a mask over their nose and mouth, avoid crowds and maintain at least six feet or two arm lengths of distance from anyone who is not traveling with them and wash or sanitize (at least 60 percent alcohol) their hands often. According to the CDC, vaccinated travelers do not need to get tested before leaving the United States unless their destination requires it nor do they need to self-quarantine after arriving back in the U.S. These travelers should still take a viral test three to five days after travel and self-monitor for symptoms, however. Unvaccinated people traveling to Mexico should follow the same advice but also undergo pre-travel viral testing one to three days before their trip and self-quarantine for a full seven days (if testing negative) or 10 days (if you don't get tested) upon their return.
Book With a Travel Advisor
May is National Travel Advisor Month, and there's never been a better time to plan and book your trip to Mexico with the help of an experienced travel advisor, who can keep you informed and safe as well as save you precious time and money. A trusted travel professional can take the stress and uncertainty out of booking an international trip in the COVID-19 era while ensuring that your experience is memorable based on your individual priorities and preferences. If you don't have a go-to travel advisor in your corner, consider TravelSense.org, where you can search and filter travel advisors verified by the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) based on your specific destination and trip type.