CDC Urges Against Travel to Mexico As COVID-19 Cases Rise

beachgoers wearing masks in Mexico

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are warning Americans against all travel to Mexico as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. 

Over the weekend, the CDC raised its COVID-19 level to red, its highest marker, saying “travelers should avoid all travel to Mexico.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Mexico has reported more than 1.1 million confirmed cases and 100,000 deaths due to COVID-19. It is the fourth-highest death toll in the world however, actual numbers are believed to be higher, due to a low testing rate in the country. 

The State Department currently has a level 3 orange warning to “reconsider travel” to Mexico, due to the pandemic. In November, the states of Mexico City, Nuevo Leon, Guanajuato, Coahuila, and Queretaro reported the highest number of active COVID-19 cases. The states of Chihuahua, Durango, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Mexico City reported the highest hospital occupancy, according to the State Department.

The Mexican states of Campeche and Chiapas are the only “green tier” (or low risk) states. 

Meanwhile, American travel to Mexico has increased over the past few months, as airlines have added flights back to their schedules. Mexico is the top international destination for most American travelers at the moment, with "the share of U.S.-origin flight reservations to the country have increased 179 percent year-over-year,” according to travel app TripIt, ABC News reported. 

Unlike other warm-weather destinations like Hawaii and the Caribbean, Mexico does not require travelers to present negative COVID-19 test results to enter the country. And much of the country has reopened to visitors. 

In September, Mexico reopened many of its famous ruins to visitors, with strict capacity limits. 

On Nov. 27, Mexico reported its highest number of COVID-19 cases ever, with more than 12,000 new cases reported in a single day. 

At a press briefing this week, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that “the number of increasing cases and deaths in Mexico is very worrisome” and that the COVID-19 situation is “in bad shape,” according to The Associated Press. 

Those who travel to Mexico are encouraged to receive a COVID-19 test before their departure and another upon their return. Travelers who take a test upon their return should continue to self-isolate for seven days. Quarantine should last 14 days for travelers who do not take a COVID-19 test. 

"People that think they can escape the virus in Mexico are in for a potentially different scenario," ABC News medical contributor Dr. Jay Bhatt said. "We're in a time where the pandemic is getting worse, we're setting records we don't need to set, and it's not getting better. If you're going to a place that has higher prevalence, you're more likely to be at higher risk for transmission."

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, on Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.

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