Throughout the pandemic, Mexico has remained a relatively safe and open tourist destination for travelers, especially for those arriving from the United States and Canada who are looking to fly somewhere with few COVID-related restrictions.
Unlike most countries in Europe, which have enacted outright bans on certain visitors or implemented strict testing or quarantine regimes, Mexico opted to go the other way completely.
Even after the arrival of the new Omicron variant, no changes seem to have been made to the nation’s border policy or entry requirements – in particular for fellow North American visitors.
Still, the new variant seems to be spreading just as quickly as everywhere else.
Omicron Cases Nearly Double In A Week
According to data shared by GISAID – Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data, Mexico had since December 27 identified 42 cases of the new highly contagious variant, which has caused other countries to reintroduce restrictive measures and even delay reopening plans.
This is nearly double the number of cases registered up until a week earlier on December 20, when Mexico had totalled only 23 cases. Additionally, on December 27, 47.46% of the samples collected for genome sequencing in the country were Omicron cases.
Although no nationwide measures to tackle the spread have been announced so far, especially regarding US or Canadian visitors arriving for winter, the rise in Omicron share is still a cause for concern.
Can US Citizens Still Travel To Mexico Despite Omicron?
Under present rules, US citizens are still permitted to enter Mexican territory regardless of vaccination status and despite Omicron’s rapid spread.
The only other requirement is filling out a free Vuela Seguro form, which must be presented to border authorities upon landing.
Visitors are still advised to check any other restrictions that may be in place in a specific destination. For example, a hotel in Cancun has recently become the first in the Riviera Maya to introduce mandatory testing for guests.
Is Mexico A Safe Destination For Tourists This Winter?
Even though Omicron numbers keep climbing, Mexico has yet to see a big surge in overall cases as experienced in fellow Western Hemisphere nations.
On the first 22 days of December, the average daily case count was 2,387 from a total of 52,528 infections reported during that period. Compared to daily average in November, that is in fact an 11% decline.
On the other hand, according to Our World in Data, Mexico tests far less people compared to countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States or Germany, which inevitably leads to less COVID infections being picked up, whether caused by the new strain or not.
The testing trend also possibly translates into lower genomic sequencing rates, as they are paramount in identifying Omicron cases and providing a clearer picture of infection trends on a national level.
Meanwhile, the moving-average case fatality rate has proved to be considerably higher than that of the other aforementioned nations, indicating the health situation might be in fact much more complex than it seems.
The 10 administrative regions that seem to be more heavily affected by rising cases are Baja California Sur, Baja California, Ciudad de México, Chihuahua, Aguascalientes, Coahuila, Sonora, Quintana Roo, Guanajuato and San Luis Potosí.
Irrespective of Omicron, Mexico’s tourist sector continues to benefit from a strong influx of visitors and a high hotel room occupancy rate.
What Does The CDC Advise?
The CDC – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has placed Mexico on Level 3 alert on their website, meaning COVID levels are high and travelers should exercise caution when visiting.
According to the CDC recommendation, people should not travel to Mexico unless fully vaccinated in order to minimize infection and serious disease risks.
There are still direct flights to most popular destinations in Mexico from a number of US cities including Los Angeles, Houston and New York.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com