Considerations for Canadian Snowbirds Thinking About Going to Mexico This Winter
LAST UPDATED: November 11, 2020
Each year thousands of Canadian snowbirds spend the winter in Mexico, enjoying the guaranteed warm weather and great value that Mexico offers.
But the COVID-19 pandemic means that this year is not like any other year, and snowbirds considering travelling to Mexico have more potential issues and risks to consider than in other years.
To help you out, we have created the following guide to all the things you need to consider if you’re thinking of spending the winter in Mexico this year.
The COVID-19 situation in Mexico
As of early November, 2020, COVID-19 had taken a significant toll in Mexico, with just under 1 million confirmed cases and close to 100,000 deaths from COVID.
Having said that, so far COVID-19 cases in Mexico have been most prevalent in larger urban centres, with fewer cases in destinations that are most popular with Canadian snowbirds, such as:
- The Puerto Vallarta / Nuevo Vallarta / Bucerias region
- The Yucatan peninsula and Merida
- The Mayan Riviera and Cancun
- Lake Chapala
- San Miguel de Allende
However, as we have seen since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the number of cases in any given region can change quickly and without warning. Accordingly, it’s important that you do the following to stay up to date:
- Regularly consult official, reliable sources for the latest COVID statistics in Mexico generally in and your destination specifically
- Check the Canadian government website for up to date information and travel advisories related to Mexico
- If you have friends who are already in your destination in Mexico, consult with them to see what the situation is like on the ground.
Quarantine & testing requirements in Mexico
Currently, there are no quarantine requirements for travellers arriving in Mexico, nor are there any requirements for negative COVID tests before or upon arrival.
However, this could change at any time, so be sure to check ahead to see if new quarantine or testing requirements have been implemented before you leave.
It’s also important to note that some destinations, condos, communities, resorts and hotels may have requirements or restrictions related to COVID, so be sure to check for the any local requirements in your destination prior to your departure.
Social distancing & face mask requirements
Social distancing and face mask requirements vary by state and region in Mexico, so check the local regulations for your destination before you leave to make sure they are taking adequate precautions that you are comfortable with.
If you have been to your destination before, it will also be able to help you assess your ability to social distance at your accommodations i.e. are there crowded entrances, hallways, elevators, etc. that you will need to navigate?
Getting There and Back
Many flight schedules to Mexico and other destinations have been cancelled or drastically reduced due to COVID-19, which has affected flight availability.
Depending on where you are heading in Mexico, it is quite likely that you may have to take a connecting flight from Canada. Flights may operate for a shorter season this year or many not operate at all, depending on market conditions.
This can also affect your ability to get home quickly if the situation worsens or if you need to return home for any other reason.
This year in particular, you may want to consider working with a travel agent to book your flights, as they will have access to flight booking systems that you might not and will be able to advise you on the best route to get to your destination, as well as advise on the latest updates on travelling to that region.
In other years, some Canadians do drive to Mexico or take their RVs across the border.
However, at the moment the Canada-U.S. land border remains closed to all non-essential travel, as does the border from Mexico to the U.S.
While Mexico has not technically imposed any legal restrictions on vehicles entering Mexico from the U.S., there is no guarantee that you would be permitted to cross the land border into Mexico without issue, and some towns and regions have even gone as far as constructing roadblocks to prevent entry.
The Mexico-U.S. land border closure also means you would not be able to drive back to Canada if you needed to get home and were unable to get a flight.
Travel Advisories and Canadian Consular services
Currently, the Canadian government has a Level 3 Travel Advisory advising against all non-essential travel outside Canada. During a Level 3 advisory, the Canadian government is not obliged to assist you in getting back to Canada.
A Level 3 Travel Advisory may also affect your ability to get adequate travel medical insurance.
In addition, consular services and assistance may be limited during COVID-19, so you may not be able to get the assistance you normally would if you run into an issue in Mexico
Medical facilities and treatment in Mexico
It is important to remember that in many Mexican resort areas and smaller towns, medical facilities and treatment options will not be equivalent to those available in Canada, and may not be adequate to deal with all COVID symptoms.
In addition, these medical facilities may not have the capacity or resources to treat you for COVID-19 or other medical issues if the situation worsens and they are overrun with domestic COVID cases.
Make sure your travel medical insurance is valid for Mexico and you understand what type of coverage is included for COVID, including any coverage limits, restrictions or exclusions related to COVID.
We recommend that you actually phone your insurance provider to ensure that you are clear about your COVID coverage, as the terms can vary greatly among providers.
Its also important to be aware that you may not be able to get an air ambulance back to Canada for treatment if you are too sick to fly or if the COVID situation worsens in Canada and no hospital beds are available back home.
Assuming you plan to socially isolate in your destination, be sure to research whether you can you get groceries, meals and other essential items delivered.
You’ll also want to consider the availability and proximity of restaurants for patio dining and take out.
The bottom line
Mexico is a popular choice for many Canadian snowbirds, and for good reason. However, COVID-19 has given rise to some unique issues that require consideration when deciding whether or not to spend the winter there this year.
Ultimately, each individual must assess their own risk tolerance and personal circumstances when making this decision during the pandemic.
And for those of you who do decide to go, we suggest spending a little more time that usual doing your pre-departure research and planning to reduce your risk and increase the likelihood that your winter away goes smoothly.