As the U.S.-Mexico border closure was set to expire on September 21st, the U.S. State Department lowered its travel advisory to a Level 3. This is down from the highest possible Level 4 since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. A border closure restricting nonessential travel has been in place between the United States and Mexico since March 21 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The border closure only applied to land and water crossings, as flights between the United States and Mexico have continued since the early days of the pandemic.
So, it begs the question: is Los Cabos safe from the coronavirus?
Pandemic in Cabo
As the pandemic of 2020 paralyzed the world, many tourism destinations like Cabo were hard hit. Los Cabos commonly referred to as “Cabo”, is the southern-most region in Baja California. Last year it was named the top luxury destination in Mexico.
In late June resorts were ready to welcome domestic and international travelers. The Los Cabos Tourism Board shared its reopening plan for international travelers. New health and safety guidelines for hotels, restaurants, and tour operators were quickly established to build confidence with travelers.
Los Cabos Airport (SJD) is the international airport in the region and resumed operation of terminal 2 in late July. Over 30% of U.S. travelers to Los Cabos come from the United States with daily flights from PHX. SJD has been carrying out health-screening procedures such as temperature checks and a questionnaire that all arriving guests need to complete on entry. This quick response earned them the second in the world and the first in Latin American and Caribbean accredited in the Airport Health Accreditation (AHA) program by Airports Council International.
Arrivals have increased at a steady pace since. Last week WestJet confirmed weekly flights from Calgary to Los Cabos starting Oct. 10, 2020.
This is excellent news for local resorts and Cabo Airport transportation providers. New daily frequency in private transfers from Cabo airport is becoming normal which, is making many businesses happy again.
In Los Cabos, communities and most businesses rely on tourism to support the local economy. In March the money pipeline dried up as the region came to a halt. Spring’s referred to as high-season that caters to travelers from the USA and Canada looking for a winter retreat. April and May are the holy months in Mexico. This brings nationals from the mainland looking to take an extended break.
In April, Los Cabos became an evacuation zone as tourists looked for that flight home. Many canceled their upcoming trips. Those that planned a wedding or vacation in the coming months rescheduled or canceled. Many of the resorts closed and forced to lay off staff. Cabo became a ghost town. Government asked the business to close and invoked a stay-home order with curfew.
Cabo’s Economy & Safety
The USA created pandemic stimulus packages for businesses and citizens. Not much in Mexico. No furlough unemployment for the majority of the workforce. Workers operating tourism for visitors live for each paycheck. Sadly, many earn under $10,000 USD a year.
Baja’s Governor, Carlos Mendoza Davis, took immediate action and developed a safety program. Four of the state’s municipalities closed beaches to prevent further infections. As of July 1st, the only beaches open in the state are in Los Cabos with 30% of capacity and restricted hours. In late August the state lightened restrictions. Of 8,426 people with confirmed infections, 7.173 recovered with only a death rate of 5.2%. This is less than half the national rate in Mexico. 80% of the deaths came from co-morbidities.
These quick actions worked for travelers too. The Los Cabos Tourism Department has reported that no tourists have reported being infected as of the July 2020 reopening.
Cabo Tourism Restarting
Dwight Zahringer, manager at a luxury concierge in Cabo San Lucas says the calls are coming in. “People are planning to travel for the fall and winter which is great. People are asking to be accommodated with longer-term rentals as families are homeschooling” said Zahringer. “If you are forced to educate your kids at home, we have excellent internet here in Cabo with amazing views – why not spend the school year here?!”