Omicron Effect Catches Up With Cancun And Quintana Roo
Cancun, and the Quintana Roo region as a whole, is finally being hit hard by the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron. Flight cancelations, staff shortages, and restrictions have seen the tourist hotspot rocked after months of astounding success.
Just this week, the Governor of Quintana Roo announced that the area’s epidemiological traffic light designation was to be moved back down to a yellow level. After months spent in the green designation, the sudden loss in capacity and working hours for many local businesses is a shock. The new rules came into effect on the 10th.
The move was spurred by a massive increase in the infection rate in the region over the Christmas and New Year period, where millions of tourists flooded in from across the world. The bulk of the tourists came from the US, where infection rates saw weekly average highs of 500 thousand a day.
Restaurants Reduced Capacity
Restaurants in the region are feeling the pinch. According to Marcy Bezaleel Pachecho, President of the National Chamber of the Restaurant and Spiced Food Industry, one less operating hour, and a 30% reduced capacity is going to heavily affect business income. As many as 25% of restaurant-based staff are taking 15 days off work after testing positive for COVID-19, further reducing functional capacity.
It’s expected that during the first week of the yellow light ruling, 40% capacity in the restaurants in downtown Cancun will be a strong showing. Tourists still in the area should at least feel comfortable as the restaurants are rapid testing all of their staff before shifts to ensure their safety, but to have patience with the stripped-down service.
Many events in Quintana Roo have already been canceled, something else tourists to the area need to consider if still intending to arrive. Some notable cancellations have been John Mayer’s band, Dead and Company’s, three-day slot in Riviera Cancun, and the Departure electronic music festival in Playa del Carmen.
Those hoping to attend the likes of Hootiefest (Jan 26th – 29th) or Crash My Playa (Jan 19th-22nd) will be holding their breath to see if the events will go on. A lot of will depend on the next assessment. Events of over 150 people require everyone to be tested before entry, and of course, the ethics of hosting a large music festival as infection rates rise is up for question in these instances.
As the US endured mass flight cancellations over the same holiday period, Cancun appeared to dodge the bullet. But the staff shortage issues have finally caught up with Mexico as a whole, and flight cancellations have been rampant this week.
Although not on the same scale as the huge problems in the US, a significant portion of travelers into the area found themselves with delayed or canceled flights. Aeromexico reported a substantial outbreak within the company, sidelining over 10% of their staff and affecting many flights across the country including Cancun.
The US implemented a shorter isolation period for those testing positive, a move seen as illogical from a health standpoint, but a massive positive for airlines who can get their staff back into planes faster, in turn reducing cancellations.
Flight problems across the world are expected to continue over the coming weeks until countries’ individual peaks in cases have been met.
Tourists are strongly advised to keep abreast of any changes to restrictions to avoid any problems. Contacting your accommodation and airline carrier for reassurance is strongly advised.
Bars and Nightclubs Closed
Bars and Nightclubs face the worst of the restrictions, and will not be able to open in any capacity during the period. It is hoped that the success of the previous months will help cushion the blow if the closures continue beyond the week, but there is no doubt it is a blow to the owners and workers involved. Travelers should anticipate very little nightlife in this regard, although some may manage to work around it by offering food on their menus.
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