The Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued a new travel warning this week – a Level 4 warning. If you are considering a holiday vacation trip to Mexico, the CDC strongly advises against it. There is a “very high level of Covid-19 in Mexico.”
The agency has warned about travel, in general, this year and as the holidays approach the warnings are not stopping. Air travel surged this week to levels not seen since the coronavirus pandemic began this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
Travelers are being warned that they may not be allowed to re-enter the United States upon return without a 14-day quarantine, even traveling to our southern neighbor, Mexico. The CDC wants people to stay home to avoid exposure to COVID-19.
Travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Airports, bus stations, train stations, and rest stops are all places travelers can be exposed to the virus. These are also places where it can be hard to social distance. If you travel, take steps before, during, and after travel to keep yourself and others from getting COVID-19.
Delay travel if you are waiting for test results, test positive, are sick, or if you have been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
If you are going to go to Mexico during the holiday season, a key component to travel preparation is testing. The CDC recommends testing prior to leaving for Mexico and also prior to coming back home. It is important to use a viral test.
Before you travel, get tested with a viral test 1–3 days before your trip. Do not travel if you are waiting for test results, test positive, or are sick. Follow all entry requirements for your destination and provide any required or requested health information.
During travel, wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet from people who are not traveling with you, wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer, and watch your health for signs of illness.
Before traveling back to the United States, get tested with a viral test 1–3 days before travel. Follow all destination and airline recommendations or requirements.
Then, after your trip is over and you are home, get tested again in 3-5 days. Stay home for 7 days after travel, increasing that time to 14 days at home if you don’t get tested. If you know you were exposed to the virus during your trip, delay travel and quarantine from other people for 14 days.
Currently, Mexico has a confirmed case tally of just over 1 million and the official death toll is 102,739. It is very likely that both of these totals are significant undercounts due to the low rate of testing in Mexico. The CDC guidelines are not Mexico’s requirements, though. There is no requirement to show proof of a negative test result in order to enter Mexico and there is no quarantine mandate. Tourism is almost 10% of Mexico’s GDP. Since the pandemic, the tourist industry has suffered greatly. Businesses are struggling to remain open due to state-mandated occupancy rates and restrictions to ensure social distancing.
An analysis by the insurance company Allianz published last week found that Cancún, Quintana Roo, Los Cabos, Baja California Sur and Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, are, in that order, the top three international destinations for U.S. Thanksgiving tourists.
The risk of coronavirus infection in Quintana Roo and Baja California Sur is currently yellow light “medium,” according to the federal government’s stoplight system, while it is orange light “high” in Jalisco.
There is undoubtedly a risk of coronavirus infection in Cancún, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta – all three destinations have recorded thousands of confirmed cases – for United States tourists but the risk that Americans will bring the virus with them would appear to be greater given the recent explosion in case numbers in the U.S.
When the pandemic first began, Mexico announced it may close its border with the United States but never did do that.
It’s important to remember that if you test positive for COVID-19 while outside of the United States, you may not be allowed back into the country until you’ve quarantined for 14 days after your last known exposure. You’ll have to make your own judgment if a few days of fun in the sun is worth that risk.