A week before we left on our trip, the CDC implemented a new policy requiring all international passengers returning to the U.S. to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test administered within 72 hours of their flight. More information is available here. My first thought was to cancel, honestly. I had visions of my daughter and I paying some guy in a parking lot in downtown Cancun for fake COVID-19 tests to get back into the country. Within 48 hours of the CDC’s announcement, many resorts advised that they would provide free antigen (quick) testing onsite, including our hotel, the Beach Palace Resort. We decided it was worth the hassle and moved ahead with our plans. Tequila and tan lines were waiting!
When to get tested?
We went ahead and scheduled our COVID-19 tests while enjoying our welcome cocktails during check in at the Beach Palace. We arrived on a Thursday afternoon and scheduled the test for Friday morning, since our return flight was on Sunday and the test is required to be taken within 72 hours of your return. I really just wanted to get it out of the way so that we could relax and enjoy the rest of our stay.
Where to get tested?
The Beach Palace had a clinic set up near the Sports Bar dedicated to COVID-19 testing. Our appointment time was 11:15, but they were running a little behind schedule because a family of 6 was in front of us and the kids were simply not cooperating. Once we filled out a basic form and sat down, the process was quick and painless. I joked before we went to Cancun that they would just stick a q tip up our nose and say it’s negative, but they actually did a real test and we had the negative results in 15 minutes. The paperwork and results were emailed to me that evening and we were able to print off the required document in the hotel business center. Everything ran seamlessly and there was no cost to us at all. It was my first COVID-19 test, so I was a little nervous about the whole swab up the nose process, but it is just a little uncomfortable for about 3 seconds. I, of course, made my daughter go first…
Who cares if we got tested?
When we checked in at Delta Airlines for our return flight, they asked for the COVID-19 test documentation and stapled it to our boarding pass along with the bottom part of the Mexican immigration form that we completed upon arrival. There was a QR code that they asked us to scan with an online survey to complete. It was basic questions like your name, birthdate, home address, had you been exposed to anyone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days, did you have any symptoms, etc. When we got to the security agent, the QR code would not scan, so we ended up having to answer the questions manually on a little piece of paper. No big deal and the entire process probably added about 5 minutes to our total check in time.
Yes, you should go ahead and get tested
I would not let having to get a COVID-19 test be a deterrent to traveling to Mexico or the Caribbean. We were actually joking around about hoping for a false positive on our test, because Palace Resorts will provide you will free accommodations for up to 14 days if you test positive. The actual hard part is quarantining for 7 days after you return if you have a real job where working from home isn’t an option. I took a follow up test yesterday and am waiting for the results before reentering the world. My main concern is exposing my 86-year-old mother to COVID-19, so I am being extra cautious before seeing her.
Hopefully, this will be a short-term mandate and we can get back to living and traveling soon!