Currently, the U.S. has a travel alert of level 3: “reconsider travel” to Mexico due to COVID-19.
Mexico has administered more than 126 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Cases saw a dramatic spike upward in late summer, though numbers started declining sharply in September and October.
Mexico has a traffic light system of restrictions, with red signifying maximum regulations, orange limiting capacity in public spaces and at work to 30%, yellow allowing for all work to resume and public gatherings to take place, and green meaning there are no restrictions in place.
Quintana Roo, where Cancun and Playa del Carmen are located, is listed as green. Baja California Sur, home to Cabo San Lucas and Mexico City, are green as well.
COVID-19 testing is required for Americans returning home from Mexico. Tests are usually arranged by host’s hotels. Unvaccinated people must be tested one day before their departure. Fully vaccinated U.S. citizens can get tested as early as three days before their flight.
“We can’t wait to escape for a couple of days and spend our Christmas there,” said Consuelo Ibarra, 33, of Grapevine. “We wanted to travel before, but we were afraid because of COVID.”
Ibarra is flying from DFW to Cancún during her two children’s Christmas break, along with her husband and her six-month-old baby. They plan to meet up there with more family who are flying from different cities in Mexico and the U.S.
“I think there is a risk everywhere, but we will try to be careful, of course. Use our face masks all the time that is possible,” said Ibarra.
Staying safe from crime
The rising lure of Mexico as a travel destination comes despite recent high-profile shooting cases involving tourists. In mid-October, two foreign tourists were killed in Tulum by crossfire during an apparent drug-gang shootout.
The killings threatened Tulum’s reputation as a low-key, carefree beach town without the crowding problems of Cancún.
And two weeks ago, four American tourists were injured in a hotel resort in Cancún while caught in the crossfire of another apparent drug-gang shootout.
Mexico Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval, speaking Wednesday in Cancun alongside Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, said that 1,445 national guard members will be sent to Quintana Roo to reinforce the region’s security.
The deployment will include the establishment of a base in Tulum.
“That can’t happen again,” said López Obrador said. “We have to avoid that happening. That’s why there’s this plan to reinforce security.”
Experts say despite the recent incidents, Mexico is largely a safe place to travel.
“The probability of being killed or seriously harmed by traveling in Mexico is still very, very low because we literally have millions and millions of Americans coming to Mexico, every year,” said David Shirk, chairman of the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of San Diego, and director of the Justice in Mexico program, an annual report on crime and violence in Mexico. “And the vast majority, some 99 percent of them, are coming home without being targeted for violent crime.”
The U.S. State Department says “homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery” are widespread in Mexico. But some areas are much safer than others. The U.S. says when traveling to popular destinations in Quintana Roo and Baja California Sur, for example, people should exercise “increased caution,” whereas the U.S. recommends against travel to 16 other states.
The U.S. continues to ask its citizens to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive security messages and help with the location of citizens when in an emergency abroad.
Source: US STATE DEPARTMENT