2 years into the pandemic, Mexico finally adds several COVID-19 restrictions

Jan 19, 2022

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Mexico has had one of the most relaxed COVID-19 entry requirements in the world. Unlike its neighbor to the north and some of its neighbors in Central America, travelers didn’t have to take a coronavirus test or show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine to enter the country or move around once there.

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What resulted was a boon for travel: Mexico welcomed more than 20 million international visitors between January and August 2021. That’s a 28% increase from 2020 when just 16 million international arrivals visited the country.

According to data from the Mexican Secretary of Tourism, more than 3.8 million international passengers visited Cancun alone during the first eight months of the year. And famous beach town Los Cabos saw a 97% increase in international arrivals between 2020 and 2021.

But loose restrictions came at a massive human cost. Nearly 4.4 million people have tested positive for the virus in Mexico since the pandemic began, and more than 300,000 have died.

Now, Mexico appears to be trying to course-correct by adding new restrictions as the omicron variant spreads. 

In Jalisco, home to Puerto Vallarta, proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 48 hours will be required to enter sporting events, casinos, bars and clubs, concerts, event halls and convention centers, Governor Enrique Alfaro announced on Jan. 10. 

According to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, proof of vaccination is now required to enter local businesses in Tlaxcala as well as Baja California, home to the border cities Tijuana and Mexicali.

Proof of vaccinations will be required for entry into businesses, entertainment outlets, restaurants and sporting events for local residents in Sinaloa. That requirement doesn’t apply to foreigners, but the embassy warns that tourists may still be asked to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

Since June 2020, the Mexican government has used a so-called stoplight system, which is frequently updated, to determine what is allowed to open or must remain closed in its states. While bars and clubs may be open in one state, those activities may be prohibited entirely in another. These restrictions apply not just to Mexican citizens but also tourists.

The four metrics to assess the colors (green, yellow, orange and red) are the trend in numbers of new cases, hospital occupancy trends, current hospital occupancy rates and percentage of positive cases. 

Under the “green” designation, all activities are allowed with no restrictions. Under the “yellow” designation, some public spaces are open, but enclosed public spaces operate at reduced capacity.

Under “orange,” nonessential companies can work with 30% of their personnel. Open-air public spaces will operate with a reduced capacity, but indoor areas will be completely shut down. Hotels and restaurants can operate at 50% capacity, while theaters and shopping centers are capped at 25%. Large events, as well as nightclubs and bars, are supposed to be shut down. 

Under “red,” the strictest designation, hotels can operate at 25% capacity, but congregating in common areas is not allowed. Only room service or delivery service is permitted.

Featured photo by Leonardo Em/Shutterstock

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