The central square, or Zocalo, in Mexico City the day after independence celebrations in 2016. Photo: Trevor Williams

Mexico City is ready for Americans, tourism professionals said this week on a call hosted by the Mexican Consulate General in Atlanta; the only question now is how desperate they are to get out of town.  

While U.S. citizens barred from most of Europe in what would be prime travel season as COVID-19 cases here continue to grow by the tens of thousands, Mexico has flung open its doors, making it one of the few foreign destinations to which cooped up American tourists can fly for some R&R.  

To be clear, Mexico hasn’t conquered the pandemic within its own borders. The country added more than 12,000 confirmed cases and 829 deaths Wednesday to bring its totals to nearly 450,000 and almost 50,000, respectively. Some experts fear the numbers could be much higher, as the country has only conducted about 1 million tests.  

Still, nationwide restrictions have been relaxed in favor of a national “stoplight” system, with a red status indicating prohibition of all non-essential activities. Sixteen states are flashing red now at least through Aug. 16, according to the U.S. State Department. 

The Coyoacan neighborhood in Mexico City leading up to Independence Day in 2016. Photo: Trevor Williams

Mexico City, the subject of an hourlong webinar titled “CDMX Is Ready” last Thursday, is currently labeled “orange,” which means restaurants, gyms, barber shops, hotels and other facilities must operate at no more than 50 percent of capacity.  

Javier Puente, president of Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International’s Mexico chapter, helped drive the creation of a city-wide manual for hygienic procedures. The idea was to instill trust in travelers that may fear uneven application of guidelines for fighting the virus across one of the world’s largest megacities.  

“They understand us as one destination, so we had to make the solution about hygienic culture one solution,” Mr. Puente said. Some 4,000 businesses have committed to abide by a newly released COVID-19 protocol handbook, including 300 hotels and 500 restaurants. Some 90 percent of hotels have reportedly reopened in the city, according to Paola Félix, director of the Fondo Mixto de Promotion Turistico.

“It’s an amazing challenge for us to achieve these goals, to develop trust from these visitors,” Mr. Puente said.  

But the talk of ensuring healthy and responsible travel didn’t stop tour operators and boosters from laying out an enticing array of options for the intrepid travelers — and some of the creative packages geared toward tour operators the consulate had invited to listen in.  

Rene Rodriguez of Ketzaltour suggested that many of Mexico’s most storied sites can be explored outside, especially Aztec ruins like the pyramid of the sun in the ancient city of Teotihuacan or or the lakes of Xochimilco. He also pointed to the downtown location of the museum of the Templo Mayor, the spiritual heart of Tenochtitlan, the nearly 700-year-old pre-Columbian city upon which Mexico City is built.  

Others pointed to the potential for strolls around the Coyoacán neighborhood, home to Frida Kahlo’s blue house, as well as architectural walking tours.

Rebeca Yañez, CEO of Dopamina Travel, highlighted natural escapes like the Desierto de los Leones National Park, or nature reserves like Ejidal San Nicolas Totolapan and Los Dinamos, where visitors can hike or embark on horseback riding excursions capped off by gourmet picnic lunches. She advocated visits to the sanctuaries in the Oyamel forests in nearby Michoacan where the migratory monarch butterflies alight after their journeys across North America.  

And, of course, there is Mexico’s diverse culinary scene; this year, the country is to celebrate a decade since it was named a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage assset, and Mexico City is the one place where the country’s vast variety can be somewhat encapsulated. 

For those ready to take flight, there is nothing stopping you as long as you arrive via air, and at least two nonstop flights are operating between Atlanta and Mexico currently.  The U.S.-Mexico land border is restricted to essential travel only until at least Aug. 20 under an agreement the countries reached early in the pandemic.  

No quarantine requirement is being enforced upon arrival in Mexico City,  and no negative test result is required for entry, but health officials will be implementing temperature checks and other measures at the airport.   

With the help of the Mexican Consulate General, Global Atlanta put together the following FAQ about entry and exit requirements, health procedures, emergency contact information, COVID-19 resources, and what to do if you get sick. Special thanks to Luis González, consul for economic and political affairs, for compiling the responses.

FAQ and Resources on Mexico Travel

Can you clarify the rules for Americans traveling to Mexico?

U.S. citizens don’t need a visa to enter as tourists to Mexico. However, it is recommended prior to their trip, to fill out the following questionnaire concerning their general health and travel details. QUESTIONNAIRE OF IDENTIFICATION OF RISK FACTORS IN TRAVELERS.

Once at the airport in Mexico, if they present any symptoms of COVID-19:

  • They will be told to be checked by the medical service of the Airport.
  • If the doctor releases them, they will be allowed to continue their journey.
  • If the doctor does not allow them to travel, the Passenger Service Agent will notify the Airport management to advise the passenger on their status.

Will there be temperature checks, or is there a requirement for a negative test?

There is no requirement for negative test. However, passengers and aircrew members arriving at Mexican airports may be subject to health screenings including temperature checks. Those exhibiting symptoms may be subject to additional health screening and/or quarantine.

Is it completely open to all who fly into the country, for any purpose including tourism?

Yes it is. Also, Mexican Immigration (INM) continues to provide law enforcement and public counter services across Mexico.  However, due to reduced staffing, members of the public might experience long wait times for routine services. INM recommends monitoring its website and Twitter account for information about its current operating status.

Do you have a sense for the current flight capacity out of Atlanta?

According to different media, including CNN, there are several flights to Mexico from the US. There are daily flights from Atlanta to Cancun and Mexico City, and less frequent flights to those destinations that come from Detroit and Salt Lake City. Flights departing from Los Angeles will carry passengers to Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta and not on daily flights.

Please review the following June 2020 press release from Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste (ANSUR), with relevant data about international flights and passengers estimates (YtD) in Mexico’s main tourist destinations. The July 2020 press release should be coming soon.

What happens if you get sick while traveling in Mexico? 

Courtesy of the U.S. Embassy:

If you have mild symptoms call your usual health care provider or call the Mexican government’s hotline at 800 0044 800 or 55 5658 1111 in order to receive advice to determine whether to stay home or seek medical attention.  If you or someone in your family has difficulty breathing, please go to the emergency room or call 911 immediately.

Individuals who were in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and present symptoms of respiratory illness should follow the instructions above. It is advisable to remain in quarantine for 14 days to prevent spreading the disease to other people.

If you are experiencing fear, anxiety, or emotional isolation, please call the Mexican government’s hotline at 800 911 2000 for advice and support. For U.S. citizens returning to the United States from Mexico and all other foreign locations, the CDC recommends you self-quarantine for 14 days.

Local Resources:

Call the Mexican Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 hotline at 800 0044 800 for information or medical attention.  English language operators are sometimes, but not always, available.

Local telephone numbers for COVID-19 assistance in each state are available here:

U.S. citizens in Mexico with questions about Mexican immigration policies should contact local immigration authorities for information.

Refer to the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19MX app (Google Play | Apple) that provides Spanish-language information about COVID-19 and local health care resources.  It includes contact information for health care providers, an interactive diagnostic tool that analyzes reported symptoms and advises whether or not to seek medical care, the location of the nearest health care facility, the latest news related to COVID-19, and advice on how to prevent the spread of the disease.  The app is available via the Mexican iOS and Android stores.


For Emergency Assistance for U.S. citizens in Mexico, call 55-8526-2561 from Mexico or 1-844-528-6611 from the United States.

The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City is located at:

Paseo de la Reforma 305, Colonia Cuauhtémoc, 06500, Ciudad de México

Phone: +52-55-5080-2000

Fax: +52-55-5080-2005


State Department – Consular Affairs: 888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444

Other resources:

-Mexico – Everything about COVID-19 (Spanish)

-More information on Mexican tourism in English at Visit Mexico

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...