A Guide to Enjoying the Mexican Caribbean during Covid
The Mexican Caribbean has taken a unique approach to handling the pandemic. On one hand, we are following strict sanitary guidelines. Wearing a mask outside is mandatory, social distancing and staying at home are recommended and most essential businesses are taking all the necessary precautions to reduce the spread of the virus.
On the other hand, due to the hard economic impact in the area and the lack of government stimulus programs, tourism has been considered an essential activity, so, some hotels and restaurants are up and running and eager to cater to tourists.
If you are planning on visiting, the most important thing to keep in mind is the beach closures. Depending on where you are staying and when, the beaches may or may not be open. Currently, the only beaches officially open are in Playa del Carmen.
In Cozumel, the beaches are closed, but if you go to a beach club or get a day pass at a hotel then you will be granted access. If you are planning on diving or snorkeling, you will have no problem booking your trip. Snorkeling off shore from any of the hotels, is permitted.
In all the other zones, if you book a hotel or condo on the beach you will be granted access. If you book a hotel off the water, even a block or two back, you will most likely be denied access.
There are many hotels and condominium rentals that are beach front in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Cozumel. Most of the large chains and many of the smaller boutique hotels are taking great measures to keep you safe. They have implemented disinfecting areas for all arriving luggage, they disinfect the rooms after every cleaning and all of the staff is not only wearing masks and gloves, but also a face shield. Many hotels are also now including free transportation to and from the airport with special vehicles that have a separation between drivers and passengers.
Many hotels have also implemented contactless check in. Do a little research and verify which hotels are taking the best measures.
We recently visited the charming Hotel Akumal Caribe for lunch and were blown away by safety measures they have implemented during covid. They have disinfecting stations dotted throughout, including in the individual beach huts. All the staff are geared up with masks and shields and the property is truly enchanting.
The status of beach openings is updated every week and depends on the spread of the virus. To get the official government statistics, you can go on the state or municipal pages.
Most establishments, including grocery stores, have a disinfecting station for your shoes along with hand sanitiser. Wearing a mask is obligatory in most indoor venues, but it isn’t strictly enforced. Some establishments are taking it more seriously than others.
Most of the restaurants in the area have also implemented strict safety guidelines. Most of the waiters and kitchen staff are wearing masks, face shields and gloves. It is easy to detect before entering a restaurant if they are taking the proper precautions. A lot of dining venues are outdoors and seating capacity is limited to 30%.
All night clubs and bars remain closed for now, but you can still find a nice place to sit and have a drink on the water’s edge, listen to some music and enjoy the sunset.
Please keep in mind that there is no obligatory quarantine when you arrive in this area, but most tourists are taking it upon themselves to make sure they are careful not to spread the virus by abiding by the local regulations.
This is a very unique time to experience this area, as it has had some time to heal from the effects of mass tourism. It reminds me of the place I moved to more than 25 years ago. The reefs are coming alive again, the beaches are pristine and the natural habitat is thriving. We have recently spotted tropical birds we haven’t seen in years and a monkey family has moved into our backyard jungle. It’s like stepping back in time.