Americans have been escaping to Mexico to avoid COVID-19 restrictions back home. Now, Mexico is seeing a surge in coronavirus cases.

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A beach in Cancun, Mexico, on December 29, 2020. Alberto Valdez / Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images (edited)

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans have been flocking to Mexico either on vacation or to settle, according to multiple reports.

In November, more than half a million Americans traveled to Mexico, The New York Times reported.

The influx of Americans has been partly due to the relaxed restrictions at the Mexican border: while many countries require proof of a negative coronavirus test or quarantine upon arrival, Mexico does not ask for either.

The influx of tourists has, in part, led to a surge of COVID-19 cases in the country. Mexico reported new highs in daily cases in November and December.

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In a bid to avoid COVID-19 restrictions back home, a considerable number of Americans have traveled to Mexico for a vacation or – in some instances – to settle down there.

“A lot of people are either coming down here and visiting to test it out or have just full-on relocated,” a former New Yorker who has lived in Mexico City for two years told The New York Times.

According to The Times, the number of US visitors entering Mexico doubled between June and August 2020, and in November, more than half a million American traveled to Mexico.

While the American arrivals have been a boon to the Mexican tourism industry, there have been consequences.

There is currently a surge in coronavirus across the country, with authorities recording new peaks in November and December.

Daily new coronavirus cases in Mexico as of January 2, 2021. Worldometer

According to Worldometer, Mexico recorded more than 12,500 new coronavirus cases on December 23 – the highest since the beginning of the pandemic – and the figures have hovered around there since.

And on December 31, 1,052 people in Mexico died of COVID-19, Worldometer reported. The country’s worst death toll – 1,128 deaths – was recorded on June 4.

As of Sunday, Mexico has recorded more than 1.4 million COVID-19 cases and more than 126,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The country has the fourth-highest COVID-19 death toll in the world.

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The surge in cases has been partly attributed to Americans entering the country, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times reported in December. The US has recorded the highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the world.

In response to the rising number of cases in Mexico, the US State Department¬†has urged Americans to “reconsider” travel to Mexico due to high COVID-19 infection rates.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also advised people to “avoid all travel to Mexico” because of a “very high level of COVID-19.”

Why Americans are flocking to Mexico

Beachside municipalities, such as Los Cabos, have seen a particularly large influx of Americans. The Riviera Maya – a region that hosts numerous all-inclusive resorts – has welcomed more American tourists than ever before, according to The Washington Post.

Quintana Roo – where Tulum and Cancun are situated – has seen a 23% increase in American visitors compared to 2019, The Post reported.

There are roughly 100 flights landing from the US landing in the region every day, the paper said.

Dr. Enrique Hernandez, a trauma specialist in Los Cabos, told NPR: “It’s frustrating seeing tourists and locals alike being irresponsible and not wearing masks now.”

Xavier Tello, a Mexican health-policy analyst, similarly told The New York Times: “What we’re creating is a vicious cycle, where we’re receiving more people, who are potentially infectious or infected from elsewhere, and they keep mixing with people that are potentially infectious or infected here in Mexico City.”

The influx of Americans can be attributed, in part, to the relatively relaxed entry requirements for tourists.

While many countries require US citizens to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or a period of quarantine upon arrival, Mexico does not ask for either.

Another American, Juan Castro from Carpinteria, California, told the Los Angeles Times that a stay in Mexico appealed to him because the country has stricter coronavirus protocols than the US.

Across much of Mexico, hotels, restaurants, and shops require temperature checks at the entrance, the tourism magazine TravelAge West reported. Many locations also place limits on their capacity, the magazine said.

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