Thinking of traveling to Mexico in 2020 during COVID 19 and wondering if it’s a good idea? I feel like before I go any further I should point out the difference between can you travel to Mexico right now, and should you travel to Mexico right now.
Can you travel to Mexico right now?
The answer to can you travel to Mexico right now is, yes. The Mexican borders have never closed, just the land border for no essential travel [source]. There are currently no travel restrictions to Mexico and no mandatory quarantine period is required.
Should you travel to Mexico right now?
But if you are wondering if you should travel to Mexico right now the answer isn’t quite so easy. In this blog post, I’m going to go over a few things you should seriously consider if you want to travel specifically to Playa del Carmen, Cancun, Tulum, or anywhere in the Riviera Maya right now in August 2020.
Should I travel to Mexico right now?
I can only speak for the situation right now in the Riviera Maya, that’s Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and all of the smaller places in between. Right now I feel like Quintana Roo is handling things pretty well. We are operating in a traffic light system which is updated each Thursday. the best place to get this information is directly from the Quintana Roo Health Officials on Facebook. It is in Spanish so you may need to consult Google Translate.
Right now we are in orange, which means just essential services. If we go green, everything is open, red and everything is closed. But as you can also see, the rest of the state is in red!
Now the interesting thing is that in Quintana Roo tourism is recognized as an essential service, this means any service or activity connected to tourists is allowed to open with safety restrictions. The general rule is that bars, restaurants, hotels, and tourist attractions can open at 30% capacity after completing and complying with a pretty robust government certification.
Now let me tell you, this isn’t just a simple checkbox form. I spoke to one of the managers from Selina hostel and it took her over 60 hours to complete all of the required information.
What safety measures are in place in Mexico to re-open
For a business to be able to operate again here in The Riviera Maya in 2020 they need to follow strict sanitation protocols. Hotels have to do deep cleaning, many places have installed sinks outside so you can wash your hands before entering.
Some places are even spraying mist on you as you enter. Almost everywhere you go indoors you will need to wear a mask, have your temp checked, and be squirted with hand sanitizer.
I know that may sound offputting, but after living with this for 3 months now, it’s just become part of everyday life here and if going through this means that I can go out again and enjoy a drink at a bar, a night in a hotel in Tulum, or spend the day scuba diving in Cozumel, well I’m all for it!
Because every city/ town here in the Riviera Maya has it’s own Mayor, they are all handling things slightly differently. So in the following sections, I’m going to go through some of the differences in each place.
I’ve also included links to the official information so you can fact check and keep up to date with the latest from each place. Things are changing quickly here and although I will keep this post up to date each week, I can’t guarantee it’s 100% accurate at the time you are reading it.
Things to think about before planning a trip to Mexico during COVID19
If you want to plan a trip here and you are worried about booking and then things shutting down before you arrive the numbers I would advise you to keep an eye on are the number of deaths from COVID and the most important the hospital capacity. If you look and see that the hospitals in that city are reaching 70% capacity and higher, don’t book. If it gets to 80% they will go red and everything will shut down. If it’s under 50% you are probably going to be ok. You can check these figures here.
The below is from PERSONAL experience of living here, not from the official information.
What is the situation in Cancun right now
Considering Cancun has the highest numbers in the area, from what I’ve experienced it’s the most relaxed. The public beaches are still officially closed. But if you are staying in a resort with beach access you will be fine. Masks are compulsory if you want to go into a shop and walking in to pretty much any business. If you are walking down the street without a mask on you will probably be fine. Just always have one with you. The police do carry them though and they will give one to you if you don’t have one.
Temp checks and hand gel everywhere!
For the most up to date information about COVID in Cancun follow the official Facebook page of the local Cancun council.
What is the situation in Playa del Carmen right now
There are some weird rules and things in Playa right now. The most frustrating is the road closures. They have closed off access to a lot of the main roads making driving around the city annoying. It takes twice as long to get anywhere and you often have to drive the wrong way down a 1-way street. Although, as a tourist, this probably won’t affect you much.
The second thing to know is that the beaches are officially closed here, all of them! That said sometimes it’s enforced, other times it’s not. If it’s important to you to be on the beach, then get a place with beach access, you may be able to be on the beach then, you may even be allowed into the sea. Maybe not, who knows! If you do get caught the police will just ask you to leave. In my opinion, opening bars and restaurants but not the beaches is crazy, but whatever, what do I know!
You will have to wear a mask to go into shops here in Playa del carmen, and when entering most places of business. I never leave the house without my mask. It is very hot and humid though so if I’m out on an empty street with no people around I don’t wear the mask, I just put it on in more densely populated places.
Most restaurants here don’t require masks once you are seated as they are outside. If you don’ have a mask and need one the police have them or you can buy them pretty much anywhere.
For the most up to date information about COVID in Playa del Carmen follow the official Facebook page of the local council.
What is the situation in Tulum right now
Things in Tulum seem to change on the daily right now. So they have just brought in fines or arrests if you aren’t wearing a mask in public. If you don’t compy it’s 36 hours in jail or a hefty fine. They have already made their first arrest.
I was there a few weeks ago and it was very relaxed. We went to the beach with no problem, both private beach club access, and public access. Some days the police enforce the closure, sometimes they don’t. I stayed at Aroma Tulum and liked it a lot but there are also some great places to stay in the reach, or in the jungle, depending on what you prefer.
For the most up to date information about COVID in Tulum follow the official Facebook page of the local council.
Travel tips for visiting The Riviera Maya in 2020 during COVID
Book a nice place to stay
My number 1 recommendation is to book somewhere to stay that you would be happy being locked up in case of a shutdown… now is not the time to book a budget place. Plus you can get some amazing “corona specials’ right now like this place or this place.
Or book into a big resort, make sure you have beach access, as the beaches are closed to the public right now. Only the hotel guests can be on the beach in most places.
Where to stay in Playa Del Carmen
The Best Boutique Hotels in Tulum
Follow the guidelines
Seriously, if you are going to come here, remember you are a guest in Mexico and this place and people in the service industry are taking a risk with their health to provide a service for you. Please be respectful of that. Wear a mask, wash your hands, and keep your distance.
Final thoughts on traveling to The Rivier Maya in 2020
Honestly, it took me a while to write this post as ethically I’m still torn about if I should be promoting any kind of travel during a worldwide pandemic. But well, first of all, people are traveling right now whether I approve o not and secondly, this area relies on tourism. Without it, there are no jobs. So for the local people with no tourism, they could just as easily die of starvation that the virus.
And if you want my personal opinion on traveling to Playa del Carmen during COVID 19, here it is. All travel comes with a risk. With this virus, it’s not just about you taking a risk, it’s also about you putting others at risk by your actions. Would I take a week-long vacation right now? No. Would I do a month-long stay somewhere, yes, probably? We each have to do a risk assessment for ourselves as individuals and make the decision for ourselves. I think it’s pretty clear that this virus won’t be going anywhere fast, so we are going to have to adapt to a new normal.
If you have any specific questions that I haven’t answered in this post, please feel free to leave them in the comments below and I will do my best to answer them. If you are looking for an amazing place to stay in playa del carmen send me an email as I’m currently managing several Airbnb’s here and they have great deals right now.
Looking for somewhere to stay in Playa del Carmen?
I wrote a whole guide to Accommodation in Playa del Carmen you can read here. I also recommend booking one of these Airbnb’s. They are all in great locations and are super reasonably priced.
Budget Airbnb Studio on 5th Avenue
Stunning Studio Close To The Beach In Playa del Carmen
Cute Studio In Central Playa (close to 5th & the beach)
Stylish Apartment with Parking Close to the Beach
Downtown Playa del Carmen Apartment with Balcony and Rooftop Pool
Saturday 24th of October 2020
Thank you Claire for your article. I was wondering if you knew any excursions in the playa del carmen area that don't require masks? My husband and I will be visiting the first week of December.
Monday 2nd of November 2020
Masks are mandatory in Quintana Roo. You won't be able to visit here without a mask.
Monday 12th of October 2020
Loved your article!Would you friend Allen be able to provide transportation from Cancun airport to the Bluebay Grand Esmeralda? Also, have you encountered any issues with the airlines? Are they still flying from the US?. Thanks.
Monday 12th of October 2020
Yes, I'm sure he can. Do you have WhatsApp? The best thing to do is to send him a message on WhatsApp. He is Mexican but has very good English. If he can't help you let me know as there is another company I use often. You can find more information here about travel between Cancun Airport and Playa del Carmen. https://clairesitchyfeet.com/how-to-get-from-cancun-airport-to-playa-del-carmen/
Thursday 13th of August 2020
Thank you very much for your article! What would you recommend as the safest way to travel from the Cancun airport to the Andaz Mayakoba resort? We have a trip scheduled for mid September.
Thursday 13th of August 2020
I would book a driver 100% here is the contact of a friend of mine Allen. You can send him a message on WhatsApp and he will send a driver in a sanitized car or minivan to collect you and bring you to the resort +529842338916. The cost will be around $50 USD normally.
Monday 3rd of August 2020
Hi Claire, my name is Debbie. Your article was so informative. I appreciate particularly the information on Playa Del Carmen. Yours is the most recent I've been able to find. My husband and I and another couple have been booked for some time at a Vidanta Resort the Grand Bliss. The other couple have a time share with Vidanta Resorts. Our trip is not until the week of October 19th. We have heard from Vidanta that they are taking extra measures of safety protocols to protect their guests, and we are hoping this is indeed true. I personally think like you that these resorts in this area are doing all they can to encourage visitors because like here in Colorado, many are still out of a job because of this pandemic. We wear masks here everywhere we go and would practice these same measures while there in the Playa del Carmen area. Most likely, in view of the scope of this virus, we would remain within the resort area of Vidanta and hopefully they grant beach access. I would appreciate your thoughts on our travel to Mexico. As far as I know, when we land in Cancun, a shuttle takes us directly to the resort. Do you think our trip can still be on. Since you live there, I value your opinion. Thank you Debbie
Tuesday 4th of August 2020
Hi Debbie, thank you so much for your message. I wrote this for all of the reasons you mentioned. This area and the Mexican people who live here need tourism to survive. For this reason, when I am personally seeing is that they are taking safety measures very seriously. You can't go anywhere here without having your temp checked, hands gelled, and wearing a mask. The resorts will be sanitizing like crazy too. So, in my opinion, you will be as safe in the resort as you would anywhere. As you said, if you are at all worried, stay in the resort and if you want to go anywhere or do any tours, just do private ones. Honestly, the government is not messing around with this stuff. I've heard about so many places being shut down for not following the guidelines and they got caught out at spot checks. These big resorts will not risk being shut down. I truly hope you do come and have a wonderful break here.