Friday, December 1, 2023

Mexico, US extend land border closure but travelers welcome by air

The U.S. and Mexican governments will extend their agreement to close the land border to nonessential travel until September 21, but that doesn’t mean Mexico isn’t welcoming visitors.

“The border couldn’t be opened right now,” Mexico Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard explained on Thursday when the announcement was made to continue the shutdown. “It wouldn’t be logical that we change it right now.” 

While tourists haven’t (officially) been permitted to drive into Mexico for a vacation since March 21, there have been no restrictions on flying into the country, especially since hotels and restaurants in popular resort destinations reopened, albeit with limited capacity, in June.  

Thousands of travelers from the U.S. are enjoying uncrowded, low-key vacations — bars and nightclubs have not yet reopened — in beach destinations such as Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta and Cancún, despite the U.S. government’s issuing of a “do not travel” warning for all of Mexico earlier this month due to the coronavirus. 

The level of screening upon arrival at Mexican airports varies and may include taking travelers’ temperatures and asking them to respond to a health questionnaire. There are no restrictions on U.S. citizens and permanent residents who return to the United States from Mexico, via air or land.

Coronavirus restrictions in Mexico vary by state and mostly follow the federal government’s “stoplight” map, which tracks how each state is doing based on four factors: case number trends (whether new infections are increasing, decreasing or stable), hospital admission trends, hospital occupancy levels and positive testing rates.  

Hotel occupancy is capped at 30%, and many hotel guests are Mexican nationals, a shift toward domestic tourism that is also a trend in the United States. 

Such is the case at Chablé Yucatán, which has long catered to Mexican residents. “This is normal, nothing new,” general manager Rocco Bova says. “Our market was always Mexico, now just slightly higher. We also got some people from the U.S., including guests flying private.”

Nobu Hotel Los Cabos, which reopened on July 1, reports that Americans make up the bulk of its guests, and Chablé Maroma on the Riviera Maya is seeing an even split between Mexican and foreign tourists.  “We tend to have a lot of American guests, but surprisingly, we have experienced an increase in Mexican travelers,” general manager Gerardo Ortiz told Travesias magazine. “Especially honeymooners that needed a sudden change of plans due to Covid-19.”

Current figures show Mexico has 511,369 accumulated cases of the coronavirus, and the average per capita rate of active cases is 35.2 per 100,000. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report the per capita rate of infection is 1,613. However, coronavirus testing is being conducted on a much higher scale north of the border.

Source: Afar (en)

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