Tests Still Required To Get Back To The States
The United States announced this week that it is not ready to relax its current COVID entry requirements. Here’s what that means for travelers to Cancun.
Cancun and Mexico as a whole have enjoyed overwhelming success over the past few months thanks to the relaxed entry protocols regarding COVID. With no testing requirement and no necessity to be vaccinated, its popularity has soared. But an often-overlooked concept is returning home to the US after a vacation.
The US does have entry requirements that must be met, regardless of how easy the process was for the country a citizen is returning from.
What Do You Need To Reenter The US?
Currently, the United States is holding its policy of requiring a negative test no more than 24 hours before departure. This applies to every traveler, regardless of vaccination status.
If a non-citizen is traveling to the US from Mexico (or any other country), they must be fully vaccinated.
Accepted tests are as follows
- Rapid antigen test
- Viral antigen test
- Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)
- Isothermal amplification including:
- Nicking endonuclease amplification reaction (NEAR)
- Transcription mediated amplification (TMA)
- Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP)
- Helicase-dependent amplification (HDA)
- Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)
- Strand displacement amplification (SDA)
The decision to continue with this policy has been met with frustration for several reasons. Many countries across the world have begun stripping away their COVID restrictions, at least for the vaccinated. The UK for example has removed virtually all of its COVID testing requirements, and even plans to stop enforcing self-isolation.
The biggest issue that travelers face with the US’ restrictions is the window of time required to get the tests. Many hotels are doing their best to counter this problem by offering tests along with the room, but those that do not need to ensure they plan ahead.
Many travelers have left the country, comfortable in the knowledge that Mexico does not have restrictions, only to be left scrambling to locate a useable test with hours to spare.
Another problem facing travelers is the potential cost of the tests. For example, the Hard Rock Hotel Cancun offers two free antigen tests per room. However, if a family of four or five is staying in the room, an additional test in each case can cost as much $50, easily adding on another $150 to a family trip.
Those who didn’t have a test prepared or were unaware of the restrictions do have the ability to be tested at Cancun Airport. However, this should be used only as a last resort. Rapid antigen tests are available in mobile testing units for $290 pesos but they are first come first serve. If time is tight for a flight, a traveler could find themselves wasting time in line to get their tests.
The saving grace for American passengers is that a PCR test is not required, only recommended. Other countries still require a PCR test which costs significantly more and takes much longer on average to receive the results. For comparison’s sake, a Canadian tourist staying at the Hard Rock Hotel Cancun would require a PCR. Each room is offered two tests for $50 each. Any other tests beyond that will be at least $90.
The same situation at the airport would not be possible on the same day as the PCR tests administered there will take a minimum of 24 hours to come back.
Anyone hoping to travel to Mexico should make themselves well aware of their hotel’s policies on testing. If the hotel does not offer to test, speak to the front desk to find out the best option. Or come prepared with a government-approved home kit. Although, these are not always reliable and many are not accepted for travel. Preparation is key to ensure that travelers can board their flight with minimal disruption.
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