The U.S. State Department has lowered its travel advisory for Mexico to a Level 3 from its highest possible Level 4, days before the U.S.-Mexico border closure is due to expire on Sept. 21.
The modified travel advisory says U.S. travelers should “reconsider travel to Mexico due to covid-19” as well as “crime and kidnapping.” A border closure restricting nonessential travel has been in place between the United States and Mexico since March 21 in an effort to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico.
The border closure terms only apply to land and water crossings, as flights between the United States and Mexico have largely continued since the early days of the pandemic. Until last week, the State Department’s Mexico advisory was a Level 4 (do not travel) nationwide. Some less-visited regions of Mexico remain classified Level 4 for “crime and kidnapping.”
The popular resort areas of Cabo San Lucas, Cancún and Cozumel have been allowing U.S. travelers who fly into the country to visit without required quarantines or coronavirus tests. Instead, Mexican airports have been carrying out health-screening procedures such as temperature checks, according to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for Mexico due to COVID-19,” the advisory states. “Mexico has lifted stay at home orders in some areas and resumed some transportation and business operations. Visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Mexico.”
Mexico has seen a total of 668,000 coronavirus cases and more than 70,000 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, with daily new cases peaking in August before lowering and holding steady in the range of 4,000 to 6,000 per day since then. The United States has reported more than 6 million total coronavirus cases and 190,000 deaths, with the peak in daily new cases hitting mid-July, at more than 75,000.
The change comes soon after some major tourist sites in Mexico reopened, including Teotihuacán, a UNESCO World Heritage Site outside of Mexico City. The only area in Mexico that has a higher covid-19 rate than Mexico City is the tourist-frequented state of Baja California Sur, which includes Los Cabos. Subregions that have earned the World Travel and Tourism Council’s “Safe Travels stamp,” which certifies a locale follows health protocols established by the WTTC, include Los Cabos, Cancun, Riviera Maya, Riviera Nayarit, Yucatán, Jalisco and the islands of Cozumel.
“CDC recommends travelers avoid all nonessential international travel to Mexico. Travelers at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should consider postponing all travel, including essential travel, to Mexico,” according to the CDC website. “Local policies at your destination may require you to be tested for COVID-19 before you are allowed to enter the country. If you test positive on arrival, you may be required to isolate for a period of time. You may even be prevented from returning to the United States, as scheduled.”