This article was written yesterday: Tulum and Cancun could go into ‘imminent’ lockdown — even as travelers are flocking there Tulum and Cancun could go into ‘imminent’ lockdown — even as travelers are flocking there Here is the text: "With its proximity to the United States, cheap flights on multiple airlines and relaxed entry requirements, Americans have traveled to destinations across Mexico throughout the pandemic. And few areas may be as popular with sun-seeking tourists as Quintana Roo, the Mexican state on the Caribbean coast that’s home to such iconic resort getaways as Cancun, Playa del Carmen in the Riviera Maya and Tulum. Unfortunately, travelers with upcoming trips to Quintana Roo may see their plans in jeopardy as the state’s governor debates a lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering a trip. A COVID-19 surge in Quintana Roo According to the Associated Press, Quintana Roo Gov. Carlos Joaquín said last Thursday the state has seen five weeks of increases in cases, and blamed the surge partly on Easter travel. And now, the state is at risk of imposing an “immediate lockdown.” “We knew that there were large risks during Easter week, that there could be a greater number of infections. Unfortunately, that came to pass,” Joaquín said, according to the AP. The Mexican government uses a so-called stoplight system, which is frequently updated, to determine what is allowed to open and or must remain closed in its states. The four metrics to assess the colors (green, yellow, orange and red) are the trend in numbers of new cases, hospital occupancy trends, current hospital occupancy rates and percentage of positive cases. Quintana Roo is currently under the “orange” designation, which means that essential and nonessential labor activities are permitted but with certain limitations. Activities in public spaces are allowed but with restrictions, while activities in closed areas are completely suspended. Tourist activities and hotels and restaurants are currently capped at 50% occupancy. Nightlife is prominent in places like Tulum and Cancun — popular spring break destinations known for wild parties, but travelers headed there now will have to enjoy their piña coladas in their hotel rooms. Bars, nightclubs and other entertainment venues are closed at this time, according to the state government. More than 220,000 people have died in Mexico since the start of the pandemic, trailing behind only the U.S., Brazil and India. According to World Health Organization (WHO) data, the country has recorded nearly 2.4 million positive cases. The situation hasn’t fared much better when looking at Quintana Roo-specific numbers. The state has recorded over 25,000 cases of the coronavirus and nearly 2,700 deaths, though those numbers are likely an undercount. In December, the CDC assigned Mexico a Level 4 “very high” COVID-19 designation (it’s still at that status) and said that “all travel” to the country should be avoided. The U.S. State Department also assigned Mexico its highest warning, Level 4: Do Not Travel — though most countries are currently at that level. The COVID-19 situation in Quintana Roo is a messy confluence of the state’s reliance on tourism, easy entry requirements and pandemic fatigue from foreign travelers. A report from Airlines for America found that Mexico was the “clear leader” in international travel in April, with most of those travelers being U.S. citizens. Tourism is the region’s bread and butter, and the pandemic decimated the industry — which relies on American and other foreign tourists. When travel dried up at the onset of the pandemic last year, Quintana Roo was among the hardest hit, losing almost 64,000 jobs in about a month. Around half of Cancun’s economy is directly supported by travel and tourism, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), and over 40% of jobs directly support the industry. The organization in 2018 named Cancun the world’s most tourism-dependent city. And Mexico never closed its borders, unlike many other countries during the pandemic. Americans flocked to Mexico, and the Quintana Roo area in particular, during the pandemic because of inexpensive flights and cheap hotels. Nearly 1 million international travelers flew into Cancun (CUN) airport, the largest airport in the region, in April of this year, according to Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste, known as ASUR, an international airport group in Mexico, the U.S. and Colombia. Flights are relatively affordable, with several of the U.S.’s largest airports offering nonstop flights to Cancun, often as low as $200 round-trip. And the airlines are taking advantage of the increased demand: Frontier, for instance, reportedly doubled international flights to destinations to Cancun and Cozumel, according to Cirium, and airlines are flying full planes to Mexico due to interest from travelers. Traveling to Mexico has also been relatively easy, compared to other international destinations. Beach-goers and holiday-seekers who arrive in Mexico are not required to self-quarantine or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival. However, travelers may be subject to health screenings at airports and other points of entry. This is different from entry requirements for the U.S. and Canada, which require negative COVID-19 tests to enter their borders, even for fully vaccinated travelers. Having a COVID-19 vaccine is also not a requirement like it is for other international destinations. And even precautions that have been put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, such as physical distancing, may be more relaxed or not as strongly enforced. Last November, a large music party in Tulum turned into an international superspreader event after several guests contracted the virus and brought it back to cities like New York. Other over-capacity parties have been shut down, even though there’s a ban on nightlife. It’s clear that Quintana Roo is in a precarious position, balancing public health with the need for tourism in popular destinations like Tulum and Playa Del Carmen. But what has become clear is that there’s limited time for the region to get back on track, before it faces its worst surge in COVID-19 cases yet."