Can Americans travel to Mexico during the pandemic?

can americans travel to mexico
Photo via Robert Stinnett/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
  • Many countries aren’t allowing American tourists
  • Tourists are still managing to visit many of Mexico’s popular destinations
  • Travelers can visit the country but should do so with the utmost caution

Restrictions stemming from the coronavirus pandemic have kept many citizens around the world from traveling internationally. Somehow, despite these restrictions, some Americans are posting photos and videos of their vacations at nearly vacant resorts and travel destinations across the U.S. southern border. So, can Americans travel to Mexico during the pandemic? 

The U.S. Embassy currently advises against traveling to Mexico. Inbound border crossings are limited to “essential travel.” Essential travelers include citizens of the U.S., students of U.S. schools, people seeking medical care within American borders, and diplomats, to name a few. The CDC even issued a “Level 3 Travel Health Notice for Mexico due to COVID-19.”

Some countries have begun welcoming visitors back within their borders, but travel from the U.S., in particular, is limited (and when those countries do, like Ireland, it makes their citizens nervous). As of Nov. 19, the U.S. had about 11.5 million coronavirus infections and more than 250,000 deaths, while Mexico had suffered more than 1.01 million cases and 99,000 deaths. For this reason, many countries are restricting travel from the U.S. until its rising infection numbers slow. 

The situation compelled CNN to write, “Pandemic travel restrictions have made Americans prisoners of their country.”

Despite this, many American travelers are managing to reach tropical destinations for their ill-advised 2020 trips. Mexico has restricted land travel across its border, but flights are still welcomed into many of its more popular tourist destinations. Cancun, Cozumel, Los Cabos, and Puerto Vallarta, to name a few, are all accepting travelers. While some destinations require a mandatory 14-day quarantine or a negative COVID-19 test, none of these locations are pushing for these restrictions.

And people are certainly interested in flying to Cancun and other Mexican hot spots. One potential problem, though: It’s hurricane season, and Americans could have a plethora of problems if a storm is coming through.

Meanwhile, land border crossings between the two countries will be closed until at least Dec. 21. And the mayor of Juárez, across the border from El Paso, wants to make sure it stays that way, especially since Texas has more coronavirus cases than the entire country of Mexico.

Some states in Mexico are calling for stricter regulations, particularly as they watch U.S. case numbers climb. The government is keeping its casual approach, however, and is inviting travelers into its popular travel destinations—some hotels are still hosting karaoke contests. Hotels are operating at about 30% capacity, according to Afar. Many beaches are open to the public, and mask-wearing requirements are lax. And even Mexico’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said on Oct. 28 that Europe’s latest lockdown measures, calling them “authoritarian.”

Ultimately, it comes down to individual choice about whether it’s safe for Americans to travel to Mexico. There are plenty of avenues through which tourists can visit Mexican cities, but U.S. health agencies strongly advise against it. If you’re willing to take the risk, however, Mexico will welcome you. The same, however, cannot be said for Canada.

Read more on traveling during the pandemic:

Sources: U.S. Embassy, U.S. State Department, Afar, USA Today, Johns Hopkins

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