Vacationing in Mexico During Corona
We get a lot of messages asking what Playa Del Carmen and the Riviera Maya are like now for a vacation. We realize these are hard times to plan a trip and conditions are always changing. If you ask an online forum or group, you will either get one of two responses. One common response is “Don’t you know there is a pandemic, stay home” and the other is “Go ahead, we had a great time and there was enough open to keep us busy” or something to that effect. This can be confusing to people getting mixed messages from people about taking a vacation in Mexico now. So, we are going to sort through all the details and give you straight forward information that can help you make a decision.
To open or not to open, that is the question
All around the world, countries have grappled with the question of opening up tourism again. Should tourism dependent places open to reactivate the economy and provide income for citizens or close everything down and limit spread of the virus. It is a tough place to be. The Riviera Maya saw tens of thousands of jobs all stop because the area is heavily based on tourism. It has been an unprecedented hard time for many locals. Normally a hurricane could devastate tourism for a few months, but it is more predictable when tourism would return. This time around, it has been hard to predict when things would return to some sort of normal.
As of June 8th, 2020 Playa Del Carmen and the Rivera Maya started to open again. June saw very few tourists coming. The first part of July saw a jump, but soon dissipated as more issues arose in the United States and people became more preoccupied with that. As we enter August we are seeing a rise in arrivals and people booking for this fall season. It is a bumpy road to tourism recovery, but it is the only road to take. We are all going along to see how it goes and everyone here in the Riviera Maya is working in the best manor to recover and move forward.
What is open in Playa Del Carmen now? and surrounding areas….
If you are visiting Playa Del Carmen, you can expect about 50% of restaurants and shops to be open. This is more than sufficient to find something you like and plenty of options for a vacation. There are also many good delivery services that you can take advantage of like this one. You can have restaurant delivery, groceries and even errands run for you. Part of 5th Avenue is under remodeling, but the upper half is not affected. The public beaches are not open to go into the water, but you can visit beachfront restaurants, beach clubs and rooftop pools.
Public beaches are not open in the Riviera Maya currently. Cenotes and pools at hotels and private complexes are open now. Most of Xcaret’s parks are open and many tours are available, albeit with limited capacity. You might even like a private tour when visiting now like this company. Mayan ruins and tours to them are currently not open and running.
What can I expect to be different now?
It is important to have a mask with you because some towns require them at all times outside, and some resorts have some sort of requirements for the safety of guests. If you take a bus from the Cancun Airport or other transportation, masks are required. Speaking of airport transportation, the ADO bus service is running to the airport, but with a limited schedule. Consult their website here for current times. Many more people are booking a private transfer from the airport to their hotel like this recommended one.
Many people ask about the ferries to Cozumel. They are operating, but have a limited schedule due to the reduced amount of people taking them.
If you are staying at a resort, there is a much lower occupancy rate, so you will enjoy the same grounds, just with less people around. There may be fewer restaurants open and no buffets or with servers at the buffet. Resorts have the beaches open for guests while public beaches are not open at this time.
What is the situation with the corona virus in Mexico now?
You might have seen in the news that Mexico is towards the top of the list where the pandemic is spreading. It should be noted that Mexico is a large country of about 130 million people and even though Mexico has surpassed other countries like the UK in death tolls, Mexico is has about twice the population. This does not make it any less tragic, but many ask what Mexico is like now with the virus.
Most of the testing in Mexico is done only when a person exhibits severe symptoms. So it is most likely that many more have had the virus and recovered. This also means that contact tracing is practically nonexistent. The hospital system in Mexico offers much more basic services than many other countries where visitors arrive from. Currently, hospitals in both Quintana Roo State where the Riviera Maya is and Yucatan State have extra facilities to accommodate patients. Hospitals are towards capacity.
Many of the tourist destinations in Mexico have a higher number of cases. This can be in part because there are more modern medical facilities in these areas and more people visit the hospitals and testing sites. In many rural areas of Mexico it is common not to visit a doctor and only wait for time to pass to clear up illnesses.
Overall, many living in the Riviera Maya now are feeling more at ease with the situation. There are many regulations and restrictions to a new normal. Unlike some counties that have looser standards, Many states and cities have mandated mask wearing and other restrictions. It is less obvious now and many are more accustomed to the new normal. Most of the severe cases of corona virus in Mexico have been with two main groups. The first is people over 45 years old and hypertension, diabetes or are obese. The second group is elderly over 75 years old. For those not in one of these groups, many feel more at ease about the chances of having a difficult illness or situation happen to them.
Who should travel to Mexico now?
It is really going to depend on you and your situation. If you are a more at risk person, it can be best to read your State Departments warnings for Mexico and take a decision based on facts. If you are looking for an extended trip, take into account that medical care is very limited and often the best option for medical emergencies is often returning home.
There are tourists arriving each week that visit and have a good vacation. Some of the tourists even enjoy the quieter times and less people around. This can be especially true of the eco parks like Xcaret. People that are younger or have already been exposed to the virus might feel more confident traveling now. However, it is good for all those traveling now to take the standard precautions of social distancing, using masks and washing hands frequently.
If you are looking for a party vacation, meaning clubbing and lots of socializing, it should be noted that most clubs are closed and events and parties at resorts are not available at this time.
Many more people this year are staying at all inclusive hotels because they are set up in a way that you in a controlled environment and have high standards of sanitation. If you need help booking a resort and help knowing what is open now, see our article on a local travel agent expert who is visiting all the hotels now. She is helping a lot of people now book vacations that best fit their needs.
What about visiting Yucatan State?
Many enjoy day trips or overnight trips to the other half of the Yucatan Peninsula. Many enjoy the contrast between the more modern beach life in the Riviera Maya with the more historical and cultural Yucatan State side.
Currently the state of Yucatan has more restrictions for visiting and on businesses. Yucatan State relies less on tourism and can take more aggressive steps to limit movement. For example, many towns have checkpoints and only allow residents in or people with hotel reservations. The state has also implemented Ley Seca which means no sales of alcohol.
One of the biggest reasons people go to visit Yucatan State is the Mayan ruins. These are all currently closed including Chichen Itza. So many of the cultural sites and activities are closed currently.
In tourist towns like Valladolid, for example, about 70% of restaurants and most tourist shops are closed. In our opinion, it is hard to get the feel of the place when so much is closed and it really limits your options. If you do want to go, make sure you have a hotel reservation and communicate with the hotel to get up-to-date information on eating options and what services they have. There are some larger hotels that can give you a great relaxing time in the Yucatan. If you want to visit one of these, this might be the best option now.
So are you coming soon?
It is a tough year to travel and we have all had to adjust our plans this year. Some of you are just tired of being home and need a break, others are still very cautious about travel. Whatever you decide and whenever you come, we hope you get to enjoy everything this area of the world has to offer. If you have any questions, please comment below and we will try to answer your specific questions for you.