The Whole Country Has Been Lowered To A Level 3: Reconsider Travel
The United States of America has issued a new “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” for the entire country of Mexico. Cancun and the rest of Quintana Roo are included in the assessment.
The State Department regularly makes updates to its risk levels for other countries. These advisories are rarely more than advice for American travelers and do not need to be followed in any way. The level is calculated based on a number of factors including crime statistics, health risks, natural disasters, and most recently, COVID numbers.
Mexico, along with over two-thirds of the planet, had been designated as “Level 4: Do Not Travel” for the past few months. This was primarily due to COVID figures as Mexico’s infection rates soared. Mexico, in particular, drew the ire of many countries’ health departments for their lack of COVID bases restrictions. The country has never prevented travelers from entering the country, regardless of vaccination status or even COVID tests.
But now, as the figures drop across the globe, the State Department and CDC are reassessing the risk levels in many countries. As Mexico recently had its risk level lowered by the CDC, the state department followed suit.
A Level 3 COVID rating is still regarded as a “high” level of infection. To be placed at Level 3, a country must show between 100 and 500 new daily cases per 100 thousand people in the past 28 days.
The news is a welcome change for Cancun and Quintana Roo. The first month of 2022 saw skyrocketing COVID rates after an immensely successful winter period. As millions of travelers poured into the region, the infection became rampant and left hotels, restaurants, and bars reeling with low numbers and decimated staff.
Several weeks of bad numbers saw new resections put in place, and the state sunk as low as orange on Mexico’s epidemiological traffic light system. These restrictions meant most businesses were forced to function at severely reduced operational capacities. The state has just entered its fourth week back in the green zone, just in time for the busy Easter season.
Another major aspect of the State Department’s level is based around tourist safety. A quick glance at Mexico’s page on the website highlights some of the potential dangers of Mexico outside of COVID.
Although it’s not clear what the current level would be if COVID were not in the picture, the travel advisory lists in detail the potential risks of traveling to Mexico. Earlier advisories, pre-COVID have seen the country at Level 3 and 2 depending on the amount of violence at any given point.
Mexico as a whole is summarized as “Violent crime – such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery – is widespread and common in Mexico. The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in many areas of Mexico, as travel by U.S. government employees to certain areas is prohibited or restricted. In many states, local emergency services are limited outside the state capital or major cities.”
The advisory then breaks down the country into sections. Quintana Roo, where Cancun and Tulum are located, is listed under “exercise increased caution when traveling”.
Its summary of Quintana Roo says,
“Exercise increased caution due to crime.
Criminal activity and violence may occur in any location, at any time, including in popular tourist destinations. Travelers should maintain a high level of situational awareness, avoid areas where illicit activities occur, and promptly depart from potentially dangerous situations.
While not directed at tourists, shootings between rival gangs have killed or injured innocent bystanders. Additionally, U.S. citizens have been the victims of both non-violent and violent crimes in tourist and non-tourist areas.
There are no travel restrictions for U.S. government employees in Quintana Roo state. However, U.S. government employees are advised to exercise increased caution after dark in downtown areas of Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen, and to remain in well-lit pedestrian streets and tourist zones.”
The key statement within this summary is “while not directed at tourists”. Many of the high-profile incidents in Quintana Roo, like the recent double assassination at the Xcaret Hotel or Tulum’s Art Beach Restaurant, have involved organized crime and no tourists were targeted. This is the general trend, regardless of how shocking the events may have been.
Tourists should take good care of themselves, and use common sense when visiting these kinds of areas. Sticking to the hotel zones and paying attention to their surroundings goes a long way.
The government has also begun implementing several new security programs to help prevent any further incidents from impacting tourists’ experience in the area.
Those hoping to visit Cancun in the near future should continue to monitor any changes to COVID restrictions both in their home country and in Mexico.
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