The quarantine in the U.S. remains intact and some Americans have decided to flee to Mexico to escape strict stay-at-home orders. The New York Times recently did a report exploring the influx of Americans looking to settle down in Mexico to return to some sense of “normalcy” despite the coronavirus pandemic worsening in Mexico. Though the number of visitors isn’t as high as pre-pandemic days, in November, more than half a million Americans came to Mexico — of those, almost 50,000 arrived at Mexico City’s airport, according to official figures, less than half the number of visitors from the U.S. who arrived exactly a year ago, but a drastic surge from the 4,000 that came in April, The Times reports.
“I know people who have lived in fear for the last year, who haven’t left their house, who lost their jobs,” Alexander Vignogna, 33, told The Times, saying he and his partner are planning to move to Mexico full-time this month. “But instead of doing something adventurous and cool like me and my girlfriend, they just stayed at home, depressed.”
The idea of traveling let alone moving to another country amid a pandemic as “adventurous and cool” is similar to what the the Los Angeles Times found when covering the surge.
“It’s a good change of pace,” 24-year-old Kierston Jackson from Houston resident told the LA Times while vacationing in Cabo San Lucas. “I’d definitely prefer to be here with a mask on than in my home without one.”
In mid-December the NY Times reports that Mexico City’s alert system was set to red, the highest level, requiring an immediate shutdown of all but essential businesses. By then hospitals were at a critical stage and families struggled to buy family members sick at home oxygen.
Though both publications report that the increase in has helped with tourism but also contributed to the spike in coronavirus cases. Mexico was the third most visited country in 2020, up from seventh last year, according to the Mexican government, citing preliminary statistics from the World Tourism Organization.
The majority of the travel has been concentrated in Mexico’s popular beach resorts where coronavirus restrictions can be even more relaxed. According to Worldometer, Mexico recorded more than 12,500 new coronavirus cases on December 23 — the highest since the beginning of the pandemic — and the number of new cases is on the rise since November. Globally, Mexico is one of 12 nations with the largest number of cumulative cases with more than one million, according to the World Health Organization.
Part of the surge can be attributed to the fact that Mexico does not require Americans to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or for travelers to quarantine when they arrive. Mexico’s official death toll in early December surpassed 113,000 — the fourth highest in the world, the LA Times reports.
Dr. Enrique Hernandez, a trauma specialist in Los Cabos, told NPR: “It’s frustrating seeing tourists and locals alike being irresponsible and not wearing masks now.”