There are millions of people just itching for a vacation right now, and Cancun wants to welcome visitors with open arms. However, there’s a huge problem with their plan. Most of the country is still in a severe phase of the pandemic – with all 32 states reporting daily increases in confirmed Covid-19 cases.
In cities such as Guadalajara and Mexico City, even locals aren’t allowed to venture far from their homes and restrictions on shopping, dining, and exercising are still in full force.
However, the country’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), has resumed his cross-country travels and is trying to portray a ‘new normal’ – the problem is little has changed to prevent further outbreaks.
Cancun is aiming to open its doors to tourists from June 10 – but it makes zero sense given the actual situation on the ground.
Quintana Roo, home to the famed beaches of Cancun and Tulum, will resume activities next week – according to the governor, Carlos Joaquin Gonzalez. The state, which depends heavily on tourism, has lost over 83,000 jobs in the last few months due to the pandemic, and with reopening the state could see an economic rebound. However, that entirely depends on the success and implementation of safety measures.
In a press conference, the governor said that tourists could start arriving in the Caribbean destination as soon as June 8th. He added that tourism is an essential activity and that there is no other of greater importance in Quintana Roo “and we are going to fight for it to be considered that way.”
He stressed during the public address that for the opening to happen by June 10th, protocols and hygiene measures must be followed to protect workers and tourists from Covid-19.
And he has good reason to reopen. According to a new survey by Expedia, ‘Cancun flights’ is one of the top 5 searches on the platform. In the same survey, Playa del Carmen, Cancun and Isla Mujeres (all located in Quintana Roo) were announced as three of the most internationally sought after destinations.
Meanwhile, AMLO has launched a cross-country tour touting the lifting of Coronavirus restrictions. President AMLO also held his daily press conference from the state of Quintana Roo to mark the beginning of Mexico’s economic reopening and resume his tours across the country.
But this too makes zero sense. Yes, the government has mandated that states can begin lifting restrictions – if they’re no longer declared ‘red zones.’ However, every state in the country is still in the red, with many seeing peak infection numbers.
It’s just the most recent example of confusing messaging from the president.
While AMLO is eager to get the country reopened and put Mexicans back to work, Coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country. Mexico has now recorded the seventh-highest number of Covid-19 deaths in the world, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker, with nearly 10,000 virus-related fatalities and almost 100,000 confirmed cases. Testing in the country is low and health officials acknowledge that the numbers are likely much higher.
The federal government unveiled a red-light/green-light system to implement reopening procedures state by state. But currently every state is still in ‘red-light’ phase – meaning stay-at-home orders are still in full effect – making AMLO’s messaging extremely confusing.
Time and time again, the president has downplayed the virus outbreak and has criticized stay-at-home orders for harming the economy.
Keep in mind, however, that non-essential travel between the U.S. and Mexico is still largely banned.
Since March, all non-essential travel has been banned between the U.S. and Mexico. However, that ban is currently set to expire on June 22. It’s possible both sides could extend the travel ban, but given AMLO’s rhetoric it isn’t likely he’ll keep the country closed to tourists for much longer.
However, it’s important to point that out even if you technically can travel – right now you really shouldn’t. In much of Mexico, confirmed Covid-19 cases are on the rise with many cities across the country just now entering its worst phase.
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.