Decision Marks An Important Departure From Pandemic Era Travel
Cancun and the rest of Quintana Roo will no longer operate under Mexico’s epidemiological traffic light system as the program ends. The Mexican government has announced the end of the COVID-era initiative.
As the world begins to emerge from two years of the COVID pandemic, restrictions, bans, and other regulations are being dropped in countries everywhere. Mexico has followed suit after announcing the abolishment of its traffic-light system.
For the last two years, the Mexican government has been using its epidemiological traffic light system to designate the COVID risk in each state and apply restrictions accordingly. The higher the infection rate and risk the darker the color. A red light on the scale came with extremely restrictive rules regarding operational capacity and other protocols, while a green light allied a state to function almost as normal.
Despite Mexico’s reputation as being one of the only “open” countries in the world, its system did mean that many of its main tourist spots were effectively locked down at times, severally impacting its tourist revenue.
Cancun and the state of Quintana Roo have found themselves under every color at some point over the past two years but have enjoyed a long stretch in the green designation since mid-February. The Governor, Carlos Joaquin, offered weekly updates on a Thursday evening where he would announce the level for the forthcoming week.
But that is all over now, and the state can consider itself in the green zone permanently as the country moves into the endemic stage of the COVID crisis. Hotels are running at full operational capacity, restaurants have their restrictions removed, and bars and clubs are now able to function for extended hours.
The transition from pandemic to endemic is officially set to take place on May 1st, with the government sensibly waiting for the busy Easter period to finish before making any further changes. The last major tourist surge in Cancun plunged the state into an orange level thanks to the Omicron variant’s fast spread. Millions of tourists poured into the region from all corners of the globe, making it a breeding ground for the virus.
Currently, masks are still required in indoor public spaces, but outdoor usage is optional for everyone. The governor has suggested that he may remove that rule in the coming weeks if COVID levels remain low, but it remains for now.
It should be noted that the states are at liberty to enforce their own rules, so if Quintana Roo was to see a drastic increase in infections, rules could be introduced to help fight the spread. Its position as a major tourist leaves it in a tough position, as it risks more exposure to new variants and a fast spread that can quickly hamper the workforce.
The state is currently struggling with a depleted number of trained workers. Many left the area during Covid to return to their home towns or seek other work and have not returned with the tourists. Several campaigns are underway to lure workers back to the coast to help meet the rising demand.
Plenty of other Caribbean destinations are dropping their own restrictions, so the departure of the traffic light system will be welcomed by all. Quintana Roo’s advantage in the tourist industry depletes with every other country that loosens its own rules, so ensuring that they remain wide open will be a priority in the coming months.
The current week is the last week that the state will receive a designation, and as of Monday, the level will be an indefinite green.
Those traveling to Cancun should still ensure they check on any restrictions in their home country that could impact their return. The US, for example, still requires a test before arriving in the country. Many hotels offer services to help visitors with this.
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