Common sense prevailed in the Mexican Government as it has told Puerto Vallarta to stop demanding testing from cruise ships with positive cases of COVID-19. The call from the Government comes after several ports denied entry to cruise ships due to positive cases onboard.
The requirements from the ports made little sense. Mexico is one of the few countries worldwide with no travel or entry requirements. The sudden testing requirements by Puerto Vallarta mentioned that all guests wishing to go ashore had to show a negative antigen test.
Mexican Government Allows Cruise Ships to Dock
Following the guidelines and agreements in place, and in accordance with The World Health Organization (WHO), the Mexican Government has announced that guests onboard cruise ships docking in Mexican ports will be allowed to disembark, even if there are guests onboard that are positive:
“In accordance with the biosecurity protocols established at national and international levels, the Government of Mexico will receive cruise ships that request to dock in our country at its maritime ports.”
The call comes after several cruise ships came in the news in recent weeks for having occasional cases of COVID onboard, which amounted to less than 1% of the total number of passengers.
The Ministries of Tourism and Health further said in the joint statement: “Should people traveling on cruise ships show symptoms of COVID-19 disease or a positive test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, they will be provided with the required medical attention. Asymptomatic people with a mild condition will be kept in preventive quarantine, and those who present serious symptoms will be treated in the hospitals of the cities where they are docked. People who do not present symptoms can do their tourist activities with respect to the basic prevention measures: correct use of face masks, frequent hand washing with soap and water or use of 70 percent alcohol-gel and healthy distance.”
On December 28, the Carnival Cruise Line ship, Carnival Panorama, was denied entry to Puerto Vallarta. Onboard, 30 people tested positive for COVID-19. A few days earlier, the Holland America Line cruise ship Konignsdam was also denied entry in the same port. Both ships were requested to provide negative antigen test results for all passengers wishing to debark in the port.
Mexico Maintains its Cruise Friendly Image
While it has been unfortunate for the guests onboard the Koningsdam and Carnival Panorama, the message from the Mexican Government makes it clear that the country counts on the cruise industry to help rebuild a stricken tourism industry.
The country is one of the few that has instituted no travel restrictions, no testing requirements, and no mandatory face mask wearing for visitors. Measures such as this would be counterproductive for the economy, for which tourism revenues account for about 8.5% of GDP. To put it in perspective, in 2019, revenue from the cruise industry amounted to 825.43 million dollars.
The message from the Mexican Government is clear, and also sends out a clear message of confidence to other ports of call in the Caribbean and Central America. While caution is certainly needed with the spread of Omicron, fear is always a bad counselor. One can only hope that ports of call do not revert to lockdowns, bringing back a situation that left many jobless in 2020.