Americans Flock to Mexico As Coronavirus Lockdowns Continue: Where Are They Going & What’s It Like Right Now?

by Tripp Flyer

With Coronavirus lockdowns continuing (or being introduced) across the United States and numerous destinations closing their border, Mexico has been one of the few destinations fully open to American travelers.

And Americans have been taking advantage. Despite a Level 4 “Do Not Travel” warning from the State Department, there are no enhanced border controls for flyers to Mexico from the United States. travelers have been pouring across the border into Riviera Maya and Cabo to recover part of the summer holiday.

The Mexican government has divided the country into ‘stoplight’ colors. While red is still in lockdowns, areas rated orange or below have allowed restaurants, hotels, bars, and stores to reopen with restrictions.

Luckily for Americans looking for a sunny getaway, Mexico’s top beach destinations are in orange states.

Mexico is Open For American Tourists

If you fly to Mexico, expect strict enforcement of the mask guidelines but not much social distancing. I flew to Tulum on an American Airlines flight from Dallas (DFW) to Cancun (CUN) a few weeks ago. The flight was packed with only two empty seats on the entire Boeing 737-800 aircraft. I was seated next to a flight attendant deadheading to work the return flight. She told me that flights to Mexico and the Caribbean had the highest load factors in American’s network.

Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres was visible from the window before landing at Cancun International Airport

Arrival to Cancun is easy. Immigration went smoothly for me (although it can get busy) and, beyond a simple health form, there is no screening for the Coronavirus or unusual questioning at border control.

New Services to Cancun, Cabo, and Puerto Vallarta

Where are Americans headed in Mexico? American Airlines is launching new services to Mexico to meet the increased demand. Check Google Flights to make sure you’re getting the best airfare deals possible.

They’ve just added flights to Cancun from five non-hub cities — Columbus (CMH), Indianapolis (IND), Kansas City (MCI), Raleigh (RDU), and St. Louis (STL). That’s in addition to their existing services from Charlotte (CLT), Chicago–O’Hare (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Miami (MIA), New York City (JFK), Philadelphia (PHL), and Phoenix (PHX).

American Airlines new flights to Mexico

American Airlines is adding nine new routes to Mexico from the United States

They’ve also added services to Cabo San Lucas (SJD) from Austin (AUS), New York City (JFK), and Sacramento (A319) and service to Puerto Vallarta (PVR) from Charlotte. The Cabo service from New York will go head-to-head with Eastern Airlines’ newly announced service.

Related: Review of Eastern Airlines Repatriation Flight From Buenos Aires

Where Should Americans go in Mexico?


Cancun continues to be a favorite destination for Americans. And it reopened for tourism back in June.

Cancun's hotel zone and beach

A view of Cancun’s hotel zone and beach. Cancun is now open for American tourists with virtually no limitations.

With its its overly tourism-dependent economy, Cancun was one of the first to be certified with the World Travel & Tourism Counsel’s global safety and hygiene stamp for adopting health and hygiene global standardized protocols. Its province, Quintana Roo, is an “orange light” on Mexico’s Covid–19 traffic light.

Cancun’s commercialized hotel zone is full of large resorts and hotels providing a kitschy and sanitized Mexican experience. Although it’s known primarily as a destination for spring breakers, if you’re looking for an easy escape, Cancun is a great option.

Hard Rock Cafe Hotel Cancun

The Hard Rock Cafe Hotel in Cancun is one of many global chains open in the tourism hotspot

Riviera Maya: Tulum and Playa del Carmen

The Riviera Maya is an up-and-coming destination in Mexico. The Riviera is also part of Quintana Roo and offers a more authentic Mexican experience stretching south from Playa del Carmen to Tulum, an eco-tourism and Instagram-hotspot Tulum.

Delek Tulum Resort Hotel

One of my favorite hotels anywhere in the world, Delek Tulum, is a yoga retreat with beachfront bungalows

Tulum has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It was my destination on my recent trip to Mexico. And while Mexico is requiring beach clubs, bars, and restaurants to stop serving at 11 pm, resorts along the beachfront are packed with revelers enjoying the crystal clear waters.

Tulum and Playa del Carmen have also become hotspots for digital nomads in the age of remote work. Similarly to Bali, members of the laptop tribe are setting up camp and getting work done in cafes and beach clubs along the coast.

Mezzanine Tulum Small Luxury Hotels

Mezzanine is a Small Luxury Hotels of the World property located inside the Tulum National Park.


Related – See Mexico During COVID – Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit Review – So Impressed With Safety Protocols

Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas was literally built for tourists and 80% of its economy is built for it. That’s why, according to The Washington Post, it’s actively working to lure Americans back.

The resort town recently opened with hotels at 30% capacity and Americans are eagerly making the escape. Americans are once again enjoying gathering around the sandy beaches, albeit in smaller numbers and more-secluded than in years past.

Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort

The pool at the Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort in Cabo San Lucas

The Upshot

Americans want to travel. With so many border restrictions, destinations with more relaxed restrictions are benefiting and Mexico has been leading the charge. It’s hard to imagine a more enjoyable or safer place to be during a global pandemic than next to a pool or beach. Given current travel trends, it seems many Americans agree.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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Arun Baheti September 1, 2020 - 11:02 am

How was the arrivals area and immigration in CUN? I’ve thought about it, but my experience is that it can take a LONG time, in a tight crowd, with so-so air circulation. Did they space you out or add room? Or is it just not crowded? Thanks.

Tripp Flyer September 1, 2020 - 11:41 am

I breezed through arrivals and immigration in Cancun on my roughly 1 pm weekday arrival — took about 15 minutes. American was good about providing all the forms inflight. But ymmv, I had some friends who arrived later who were stuck for over an hour. Overall, not a whole lot of distancing within the terminal but I personally did not feel unsafe.

Gene September 1, 2020 - 12:08 pm

There is not a Level 4 warning. It was lowered to Level 3 on August 6.

Tripp Flyer September 1, 2020 - 12:14 pm

Gene: That’s not correct. If you click on the Sherpa link in the article or go to the State Dept. website you’ll see there is still a level 4 warning:

Gene September 1, 2020 - 2:06 pm

I stand corrected. I am surprised that there is a Level 4 warning for Mexico.

Damien September 2, 2020 - 6:36 pm

Wow Gene, wrong twice, in 2 comments.

Stephanie Woods September 1, 2020 - 12:20 pm

You never mentioned Cozumel. It has much less COVID than any of the places you mention, AND you can fly directly there. You never mentioned COVID levels at all in your article. As Cozumel is a small airport, you can breeze right thru it, and you can get testing on the island if needed. Since it’s a pretty small place, it’s easy to get around.

David Brody, DMD September 2, 2020 - 10:55 am

We just returned from a week in Cancun. No troubles at the airport nor at our resort, the Royal Islander. Mask usage is much better than USA. Sanitizer gel is everywhere. Traffic in the hotel zone is noticeably light. I estimate 20% of normal.
I would not hesitate to return.


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