Is it safe to vacation in Puerto Vallarta during the COVID-19 pandemic?

(Editorial / Opinion ) PVDN is dedicated to the safety of our citizens and tourists visiting Puerto Vallarta, and to reopening the local economy and allowing the members of our community to return to work and end the hardships that many have suffered in an already fragile Mexican economy. We believe that the health of our residents and tourists, and the reopening of the economy and tourism can co-exist safely together through social changes.

Returning to Puerto Vallarta at this time can be done safely and allow travelers a chance to unwind on our beaches, and for a moment, forget the woes that have plagued the first half of 2020. However, to keep the reopening of tourism progressing, and the return of people to work, it depends on every individual, not just a few.

Keep informed with accurate information.

Local, State, and Federal Governments in Mexico have contradicted each branch of government in regard to the seriousness of COVID-19 on the public’s health. From a lack of testing, false claims of a flattened curve, and a government that only reports some cases of COVID-19 from select health services.

As we wrote at the beginning of the pandemic, we believe transparency is key to building trust with tourists. The government’s handling of the virus and the information distributed to the public with political spin will only prolong the return of tourists to our beaches. Confusion in messaging only builds distrust, and without trust, we cannot expect the return of tourism any time soon.

PVDN has been critical of the response to COVID-19 by all levels of government because we want to encourage a better response, but we are aware that what Mexico is experiencing with the politicization of this pandemic isn’t unique to Mexico. Most governments have failed in transparency and sound policy to fight the pandemic. And the only end-game is a vaccine.

It’s important for each resident and traveler to be aware that the spread of COVID-19 is more widespread than what is reported by the government in Mexico. Understanding that Mexico has not ‘tamed the virus’ as they claim each day at news conferences will allow you to be a smarter citizen and traveler. Be informed. Be vigilant.

COVID-19 numbers are low for several reasons, mostly a lack of testing by a government that has openly expressed their disbelief in the importance of widespread testing during the pandemic. Also, coronavirus cases in private hospitals and tests from private laboratories are not reported by the federal government, only cases in the public healthcare system. Currently, in Jalisco, there are nearly 100% more cases than what the Federal Government reports. In addition, a lack of access to quality healthcare for many Mexicans prevents many sick individuals from seeking medical attention or testing.

After two months of lock-down in Mexico, the daily cases of COVID-19 have spiked nearly 500% because of the misinformation provided to the public that has resulted in the citizens feeling like the threat of the pandemic has ended. The threat is far from over, but through personal responsibility, there can be a return to a new normal and the joys of life.

COVID-19 is part of our lives for the foreseeable future. Isolation was never a measure to end the virus, only to slow the spread to keep healthcare systems from being overwhelmed.

We cannot remain in isolation until a vaccine is made available to billions of people, which could be another year, therefore we need to be educated on the risk and take the needed precautions and personal responsibility to allow us to return to a ‘new normal’ in life that allows us to return to work and find joy again, including traveling and enjoying the beaches in Puerto Vallarta. Or wherever you find your joy. This is achievable.

The Puerto Vallarta Government and local businesses have worked tirelessly to keep residents and tourists safe during the coronavirus pandemic. They deserve more credit than they are given, perhaps even more credit than this publication has shown at times, but the government and the business sector can only lay the foundation for a safe return to a new normal. The public will determine if the foundation that is built remains stable or if it crumbles.

Follow guidelines to keep the public safe.

Face masks are proven to greatly reduce the spread of COVID-19, they are credited for the low numbers of cases and deaths in Asia, where face covers are part of the culture. Keeping the people around us safe isn’t a political view, it’s a moral code.

Wash your hands and use hand gel.

When shopping for local souvenirs, which we hope you do to support local businesses struggling to emerge from the pandemic, keep in mind that touching every item on the shelf isn’t part of the ‘new normal’ we are faced with. Be aware of others in the shop, don’t invade their healthy distance space. Shops should have hand gel at the register, use it before handing cash or credit cards to the cashier, and use it again after receiving your change or your card is returned to you.

At restaurants, wash your hands before sitting at your table, and again when you exit. Have hand gel available after touching menus. If you don’t have gel, ask your waiter.

Keep your social distance.

I always greet my friends with a hug. Those days are long gone. I meet with friends, in masks, and we social distance as much as possible, even together. We don’t hug or shake hands. We don’t share our drinks, phones, or other items between us. We only meet in small groups of 2-4 people, no more, and not frequently.

When I visit a store for my essentials (grocery store and convenience store), I always wear a mask inside public spaces and keep a healthy distance of 2 meters (6 feet). If another shopper enters my space, I do not hesitate to ask them to step back from me, for their own health. I am surprised as to how comfortable people are with getting right up behind you, within 12-inches, in a line. No awareness.

In restaurants, if I feel like my table is too close to others, I speak up. If I see menus being passed from one customer to another without a proper cleaning, I speak up. It’s up to all of us to enforce the new normal.

While scouting for your spot on the beach, be aware of social distancing and do not invade the healthy space of other people. If someone sets up camp on the beach too close to you, ask them to distance themselves from you.

Being outdoors is a safer option than indoor socializing, but that shouldn’t be a reason to forget we live in a different world than we knew six months ago. We need to change our habits in everything we do, because the only other option is experiencing a return to isolation and closed businesses.

Most people carrying the coronavirus don’t have symptoms so I conduct my social life with the belief that I am infected and my responsibility and moral obligation is to keep people safe from me.

I am young and have no underlying conditions. I don’t fear being infected by the coronavirus, but I do fear that I could be infected and asymptomatic, then pass the virus to an elderly person or someone with health conditions that put them at a higher risk. My adherence is for the safety of others only.

The new normal allows for safe travel and socialization during a pandemic.

It is safe to visit Puerto Vallarta, but only by embracing the ‘new normal’ that we have been thrust into by this pandemic.

Keep a healthy distance from others. Wear a mask indoors of public spaces and outdoors where healthy distance cannot be guaranteed, such as walking on public sidewalks where we pass others on narrow walkways.

Limit touching objects, keep hand gel nearby, wash your hands frequently, and don’t touch your face.

If you feel like someone is putting you at risk by not following sanitary guidelines, or invading your 2-meter healthy distance bubble, speak up.

The new normal are habits that we need to adopt are not always easy to make habits. I have left the house many times without my mask, only to return home. The key is correcting your action when you realize you have let your guard down, not just brushing it off as ‘well, next time’.

Visit Puerto Vallarta with the new normal, it’s as safe as you make it.

If you understand the risk and take the proven measures to keep you, and the people around you safe, you can safely travel in the ‘new normal’ and Vallarta welcomes you.

Yes, traveling to Puerto Vallarta is safe now, with a little help from you!

¡Bienvenido a Puerto Vallarta!

This is an editorial expressing personal opinions on how to return to a new normal, find joy in our lives, and safely travel during the pandemic. This information is in response to many requests about the safety of traveling to Puerto Vallarta. It is up to each individual to determine if they are ready to enter a new normal and travel.
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