2021 Travel Restrictions: What It’s Like Traveling Around Mexico Right Now


More people are vaccinated. More businesses are open and welcoming visitors. But what’s it really like to travel in Mexico today?

During my most recent trip, I visited multiple cities in three Mexican states, took various types of transportation and inspected accommodations both high-end and budget-friendly. I came back with a comprehensive overview of what travelers can expect throughout Mexico at this phase of the pandemic.

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The first thing to keep in mind is that, similar to the United States, Mexico deals with the COVID-19 pandemic on a state-by-state basis. That means that each state may have a different alert status, so it’s worth checking before visiting any destination. In Mexico, the monitoring system is based loosely on the concept of a four-tiered traffic light, with red being the highest alert level, followed by orange, yellow and green. Based on the color, certain types of businesses and facilities may be closed or have limited capacity. During my visit, all three states were at the orange alert level, which meant that restaurants had limited capacity and live theater performances were not allowed, among other restrictions.

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Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.

For the most part, many or most attractions, businesses and other venues are open in Mexico, at least partially, except when a destination is declared “red.” Regardless of the color status, some features are consistently present throughout the country during the pandemic. This includes hand sanitizer and masks, which are currently required in nearly every aspect of public life throughout Mexico. Temperature checks are too, at the airports and in many businesses and major attractions.

In Mexico City, for example, temperature checks, capacity limits and hand sanitizer are the norms at restaurants, museums and stores (in many places, an attendant stands at the entrance to give visitors a squirt of hand sanitizer; one friend told me his hands felt drunk from all the alcohol that was rubbed into them during his most recent visit). Restaurants close earlier than usual (by 10 or 11 p.m.), but many now offer outdoor seating, which is usually a pleasant experience, given the city’s agreeable climate.

As elsewhere in the country, hotels in Mexico City are especially strict about pandemic protocols; they’re also rather good about inventing creative ways to improve the experience. During sumptuous lunches at both the InterContinental Presidente Mexico City and the St. Regis Mexico City, for example, I savored meals at brand-new, open-air dining venues designed to foster safer dining environments with upscale flair. As at all restaurants I visited, both hotel venues followed the now-common practice of cleaning the table with disinfectant when the guest sits down. The St. Regis venue even provided a paper bag to put my face mask in, so it wouldn’t touch the table.

While the dining experience continues to be fairly normal, visitors shouldn’t plan on attending indoor theater performances, dancing at nightclubs or partaking in any other indoor live entertainment. We did find an excellent, open-air dance performance on the rooftop of a venue called Casa Franciscana, however, so there are still options.

Getting around Mexico’s larger cities is relatively unchanged; Uber requires masks, and drivers sometimes provide hand sanitizer. The Mexico City Metro is sometimes quite crowded so it’s not the best option for those looking to practice social distancing. The same goes for Mexico’s long-distance buses; while first-class services like ADO GL fumigate buses at the station, take temperatures at the boarding gate and furnish buses with clear plastic headrest dividers, the lack of space and ventilation onboard makes this far from the most hygienic way to travel during the pandemic.

Puebla Cathedral temperature check
Puebla Cathedral temperature check. (photo by Mark Chesnut)

Other cities in Mexico follow similar protocols. We had our temperatures checked at multiple restaurants and the spectacular Anthropology Museum in Xalapa, received heaping helpings of hand sanitizer at the International Baroque Museum in Puebla and had to skip the teleférico cable car ride since its small cabins were closed due to pandemic safety measures.

Elsewhere in Mexico’s interior, various attractions have made adjustments to provide safer experiences. In the town of Tequila, some distilleries are open at reduced capacity for tours, while Mundo Cuervo offers tastings coupled with a virtual tour of its facility. And in Tlaquepaque, the popular tourist neighborhood in Guadalajara, visitors must have their temperature checked and walk through a sanitizing tent before entering the main pedestrian street.

Mexico’s much-visited coastal destinations continue to modify their approach to meet current realities, as well. Careyes, the upscale development in Jalisco’s Costalegre region, requires residents and visitors to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Hotels and attractions in the Mexican Caribbean, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit all follow strict safety guidelines. Xcaret, the ecological park in the Riviera Maya, for example, follows measure established by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, with extensive disinfecting of items like footwear and aquatic gear.

COVID-19 testing at Mexico City pharmacy
COVID-19 testing at Mexico City pharmacy. (photo by Mark Chesnut)

Regardless of the destination in Mexico, all travelers flying back to the United States — whether vaccinated or not — must present negative results from a COVID-19 performed within 72 hours before departure. Destinations large and small are making it easier to get those tests, with onsite testing (sometimes for free) at many large resort hotels. Urban centers in Mexico City and Guadalajara provide inexpensive testing options at many pharmacies and even onsite at the airports.

The Mexico travel experience may not be back to normal yet, but for those willing to follow the protocols and take the appropriate measures to stay safe, it can still be a rewarding experience.





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AAA to hold virtual travel show as interest in traveling increases among Coloradans – 9News.com KUSA



AAA to hold virtual travel show as interest in traveling increases among Coloradans  9News.com KUSA



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Colorado Bill Would Prohibit Traveling Animal Show | Colorado News


By PATTY NIEBERG, Associated Press/Report for America

DENVER (AP) — Colorado lawmakers moved closer to passing a bill that would prohibit using certain animals in traveling performances like circuses, facing opposition from livestock and rodeo groups who claim the measure threatens their livelihood and support from animal rights organizations.

If the bill becomes law, the violation would be considered a misdemeanor and carry a fine between $250 to $1,000.

One of the bill’s sponsors, Democratic Rep. Meg Froelich who testified at the House Agriculture, Livestock, & Water committee Monday, said that the bill only applies to performances that fall under one of three categories: travel, performance and exotic animals.

The bill prohibits performances in which animals are “required to perform tricks, give rides, or participate as accompaniments for the entertainment, amusement, or benefit of an audience or used primarily for photographic purposes.”

That does not include rodeos, stock shows, zoos with shows used for educational purposes or wildlife sanctuaries. The bill applies to specific exotic animals and does not apply to livestock or pets. Animals in movie and film productions are exempt from the bill.

The House committee passed the bill Monday. It will now go to the House floor where it’s expected to pass in the Democrat-controlled Legislature.

“As with circuses and with the rodeo, you know, there’s lots of ways to entertain folks that don’t involve traveling, exotic animals and performance,” Froelich said.

Bill sponsor Democratic Rep. Monica Duran said that traveling exotic animals are subjected to lives “far removed from their natural habitat.” She added that many traveling animals spend 90% of their lives in a cage and are deprived of proper nutrition and veterinary care.

“While your dog might jump or shake your hand for a treat, a tiger will not reliably respond to positive reinforcement,” Duran said. “They do not enjoy performing, nor do they naturally submit to the authority of a human.”

Mindy Patterson, President of The Cavalry Group, a private organization advocating for animal owners and animal-related businesses, testified in opposition and said that the USDA’s welfare standards and licenses for legal ownership already monitor animal well-being effectively.

“Private ownership is true conservation,” Patterson said. “Many of the USDA licensees and exhibitors who own exotic animals species who exhibit and do these performing acts … are people who are participating in conservation efforts.”

But Roland Halpern, executive director of Colorado Voters for Animals who testified in support of the bill, said that after checking with the USDA, he learned that 96 inspectors oversee more than 8,000 facilities across the U.S. including labs, zoos and circuses.

“In my opinion, USDA oversight is not really a benchmark for anything,” Halpern said.

Others in support of the bill argued that the lifestyle of animals used for shows is not healthy for them as a species.

“For animals that are in traveling performances, their life is hardly a lap of luxury,” said Kent Drotar, director of public relations for The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado.

Drotar said the sanctuary receives animals from travel shows that are declawed and defanged and have suffered from social isolation, stress of travel and vitamin deficiencies from being taken away from their mothers at an early age.

Drotar said that show animals are commonly taken at or shortly after birth so they are better adjusted to humans. While they are considered domesticated, Drotar said the animals are “still very wild at heart.”

Witnesses, particularly those who testified in opposition of the measure on behalf of rodeo and livestock show organizations, said the bill’s language was ambiguous and would pave the way for future restrictions.

Paul Andrews, President and CEO of the National Western Stock Show, an annual livestock show in Colorado that has been held since 1906, said that the bill threatens the future of rodeos and threatens Colorado’s “Western heritage.”

The committee passed an amendment to include rodeo and county fairs in the bill’s exemptions after those in opposition of it raised the popularity of animal side acts at the events.

Andrews said taking away the side acts would have unintended economic effects on rodeos, especially at the state’s annual stock show which brings in millions in state revenue.

In January 2017, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced the show’s closure after 146 years. The company cited declining attendance, along with changing public attitudes and battles with animal rights groups.

As of March, six U.S. states and nearly 150 municipalities in 37 states had passed restrictions on the use of wild animals in circuses and traveling shows, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit that advocates for animal legal rights.

Legislation has been introduced at the federal level in previous years but the measures have not gone further than House or Senate committees.

Nieberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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Kansas City Chiefs’ Britt Reid was allegedly intoxicated, traveling 84 mph before car crash that injured girl


Kansas City Chiefs assistant coach Britt Reid is facing a charge of driving while intoxicated after allegedly speeding before hitting two stopped cars in a February crash that seriously injured a 5-year-old girl.

Reid, who is the son of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, allegedly drove at a reckless speed when he hit a disabled car that had run out of gas and another that had pulled up to assist on the evening of Feb. 4, according to the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office. A blood test following the crash showed Reid’s blood alcohol concentration to be .113 percent, higher than the .08 percent legal limit.

The investigation also found that Reid was driving nearly 84 mph just seconds before the crash.

A 5-year-old girl suffered severe traumatic brain injury, a parietal fracture, brain contusions and subdural hematomas in the crash, the prosecutor’s office said.

Search warrant documents filed in court and obtained by NBC affiliate KSHB allege that Reid was driving a Dodge Ram pickup truck in the crash, which occurred days before the team traveled to the Super Bowl in Florida. A police officer reported smelling “a moderate odor of alcoholic beverages” on Reid, whose eyes were red and bloodshot, one of the documents said. Reid also allegedly told the officer he was on Adderall when asked if he was on prescription medication.

Prosecutors plan to request that Reid be placed on GPS and alcohol monitoring along with a $100,000 bond. Reid intends to self-surrender with his attorney, the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office said Monday.

Reid bonded out of jail Monday evening and is next expected in court on May 27. His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment following Reid’s initial appearance.

A phone call to Reid on Monday went straight to voicemail.

Reid was placed on administrative leave from his position with the Chiefs in February. The team did not immediately respond to a request for comment following the announcement of new charges.

According to Montgomery County, Pennsylvania court records, Reid was previously charged with driving under the influence, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia in 2007. The next year, he was sentenced to up to six months behind bars.





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‘Virtually entire White Sox traveling party’ receives COVID-19 vaccine


Thursday was a pretty good day for the White Sox.

With the team playing in front of home fans for the first time since 2019, Lance Lynn threw a complete-game shutout and Yermin Mercedes continued his journey to becoming a cult hero by blasting a 485-foot home run.

And those might not be the only reasons the Sox will view that day so fondly.

Before their 4-3, 10-inning loss Sunday to the Royals, the Sox announced that ‘‘virtually the entire White Sox traveling party’’ received a COVID-19 vaccine after the home opener Thursday. The optional vaccines were the one-time Johnson & Johnson version and were administered at the ballpark.

General manager Rick Hahn said more than 90% of the traveling party was vaccinated. At this point, the Sox haven’t reached the 85% threshold because they haven’t been able to offer vaccines to all of their players and staff at their alternate site in Schaumburg. The 85% mark is important because when a team reaches it, Major League Baseball will relax safety protocols for that club.

Hahn, however, said he anticipates surpassing that level when the Sox get more access to vaccines.

‘‘We are thrilled with where we are at,’’ said Hahn, who thanked the city of Chicago, the Chicago Department of Public Health and Rush University Medical Center.

Hahn and manager Tony La Russa sounded especially happy about how much the team bought in to getting vaccinated. While acknowledging the obvious individual benefits, Hahn said it goes beyond that. He said it sends a great message to the community and a great message about being a good teammate.

La Russa, who received a vaccine before the start of spring training, didn’t go player-to-player talking about the vaccines, leaving it instead to medical professionals to inform the team.

‘‘It’s an independent decision times 26 or 40, but I do know that they got a lot of information,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘It’s a big issue. It’s not something that you decide on lightly. But there’s a lot of community in what the final outcome was, which is good for us.’’

Infielder Danny Mendick said he was one of the players who was vaccinated. He said he did it for the team, his family and everybody around him.

Mendick admitted he felt ‘‘a little crummy’’ Friday after getting inoculated, but that seemed a small price to pay for peace of mind. The Sox scheduled the vaccinations around their off-day Friday and had another day to recover when their game Saturday was postponed because of rain.

‘‘I think it’s pretty cool to see that all the guys pretty much went in there and got the vaccine for everybody else, you know what I mean?’’ Mendick said. ‘‘It helps for families, for road trips and different things like that. It shows that everyone has bought in. We’ve got a 162-game season, so it’s great to get it started like this.’’

The news doesn’t mean the Sox are completely free of COVID-19 concerns. The pandemic is still a part of everybody’s lives and requires precautions. The inoculations, however, will lower Hahn’s worries about the coronavirus infiltrating the Sox’ clubhouse.

‘‘Quite frankly, one of the strong benefits of the participation [in] the vaccination program is that when my phone rings and it’s [athletic trainer] James Kruk on the other end, it’s more likely to be an actual baseball injury than it is something COVID-related,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘Having dealt all of last summer and spring this year with that risk, I would say that there’s actually a little bit of comfort spending our time talking about hamstrings instead of a pandemic.’’



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Most of White Sox traveling party gets COVID-19 vaccine | Buffalo Sports


Most of White Sox traveling party gets COVID-19 vaccine | Buffalo Sports | buffalonews.com

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Most of White Sox traveling party gets COVID-19 vaccine


More than 90% of the traveling party for the Chicago White Sox got the COVID-19 vaccine after their home opener, moving the team closer to meeting Major League Baseball’s threshold for relaxing some of the protocols put in place for the pandemic.

Showing an unusual amount of transparency for the sport, the White Sox announced the step before Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Royals. The team said in a release that “virtually the entire” traveling party had received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and general manager Rick Hahn put the number at “well in excess of 90%.”

“We got to an extraordinarily high percentage of those eligible participating and we couldn’t be happier with that,” Hahn said.

In its release, the team thanked the city, the Chicago Department of Public Health and Rush University Medical Center for their help with the vaccinations.

Major League Baseball and the players’ association sent a memo to players and staff last month that said some of the sport’s coronavirus-related restrictions would be eliminated once 85% of the team’s major league players and primary field staff are vaccinated. The memo said players and staff are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the one-dose vaccine.

While the White Sox got most of their traveling party vaccinated on Thursday, Hahn said they haven’t met the 85% threshold because it also includes players and staff at the club’s alternate site in Schaumburg. But he thinks the organization will reach 85% “in the coming weeks.”

In the meantime, under MLB protocols, there are individual benefits to the vaccine for players and staff. Fully vaccinated people who have close contact with someone with COVID-19 do not have to quarantine unless they exhibit symptoms.

“I think it’s pretty cool to see that all the guys pretty much went in there and got the vaccine for everybody else,” said shortstop Danny Mendick, a vaccinated player. “You know what I mean? It helps for families, for road trips and different things like that. It shows that everyone has bought in.”

For Hahn, the team’s vaccination program had at least one benefit very specific to his job.

“When my phone rings and it’s (head athletic trainer) James Kruk on the other end, it’s more likely to be an actual baseball injury than it is something COVID-related, having dealt with all of last summer and spring this year with that risk,” Hahn said. “I would say that there’s actually a little bit of comfort in spending our time talking about hamstrings instead of the pandemic.”

___

Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap





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Most of White Sox traveling party gets COVID-19 vaccine


CHICAGO (AP) — More than 90% of the traveling party for the Chicago White Sox got the COVID-19 vaccine after their home opener, moving the team closer to meeting Major League Baseball’s threshold for relaxing some of the protocols put in place for the pandemic.

Showing an unusual amount of transparency for the sport, the White Sox announced the step before Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Royals. The team said in a release that “virtually the entire” traveling party had received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and general manager Rick Hahn put the number at “well in excess of 90%.”

“We got to an extraordinarily high percentage of those eligible participating and we couldn’t be happier with that,” Hahn said.

In its release, the team thanked the city, the Chicago Department of Public Health and Rush University Medical Center for their help with the vaccinations.

Major League Baseball and the players’ association sent a memo to players and staff last month that said some of the sport’s coronavirus-related restrictions would be eliminated once 85% of the team’s major league players and primary field staff are vaccinated. The memo said players and staff are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the one-dose vaccine.

While the White Sox got most of their traveling party vaccinated on Thursday, Hahn said they haven’t met the 85% threshold because it also includes players and staff at the club’s alternate site in Schaumburg. But he thinks the organization will reach 85% “in the coming weeks.”

In the meantime, under MLB protocols, there are individual benefits to the vaccine for players and staff. Fully vaccinated people who have close contact with someone with COVID-19 do not have to quarantine unless they exhibit symptoms.

“I think it’s pretty cool to see that all the guys pretty much went in there and got the vaccine for everybody else,” said shortstop Danny Mendick, a vaccinated player. “You know what I mean? It helps for families, for road trips and different things like that. It shows that everyone has bought in.”

For Hahn, the team’s vaccination program had at least one benefit very specific to his job.

“When my phone rings and it’s (head athletic trainer) James Kruk on the other end, it’s more likely to be an actual baseball injury than it is something COVID-related, having dealt with all of last summer and spring this year with that risk,” Hahn said. “I would say that there’s actually a little bit of comfort in spending our time talking about hamstrings instead of the pandemic.”

___

Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports





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Oat Milk Gin and a Traveling Grocery Store


Welcome to the weekend and the spring season! If you happen to find yourself caught in a spring shower while admiring wildflowers, this is the perfect time to scurry home catch up on some Food Tech News. This week we have stories on the first oat milk gin, a traveling grocery landing in Chicago, and Shelf Engine’s technology being implemented in an independent grocery store.

The first oat milk infused gin launches in Finland

Finland-based Arctic Blue Beverages produces an award-winning gin and the company launched a new product this week – a vegan oat milk infused gin. The inspiration came from one of the board members, who is a former CEO of a Finnish oat producer. The new product is called Arctic Blue Oat and is a mixture of organic, gluten-free oat milk and gin. The company’s website describes the flavor of its newest gin as “…the flavour of an oaty blueberry pie, smothered in vanilla sauce and topped off with a generous sprinkling of cardamom.” Arctic Blue Oat will be available in Finland within the next few months, and then shortly after be distributed to other countries throughout the year.

Photo from Pop Up Grocer’s Instagram

Pop Up Grocer travels to Chicago

Pop Up Grocer is a traveling grocery that offers hundreds of unique food, pet, body care, and home items, and moves to a different major city every 30 days. After popping up in Los Angeles, New York, and Austin, Pop Up Grocer’s next location is Chicago. The grocery concept emphasizes selling products that are plant-based, health-conscious, and unique, and Pop Up makes an effort to buy from brands that are women and BIPOC owned. Additionally, the temporary grocery store will offer brands that currently just sell online, like Loca and Magic Spoon. The Pop Up Grocer will be in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago from April 30 through May 30 before moving to the next city.

Photo from Raul Gonzalez on Unsplash

Kimberton Whole Foods employs Shelf Engine to reduce food waste

Kimberton Whole Foods, an independent grocery chain in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area, has reduced food waste and increased sales of fresh foods through the use of Shelf Engine, an artificial intelligence (AI) software that helps grocers order inventory more accurately. After implementing Shelf Engine’s technology, Kimberton Whole Foods said it has increased fresh food sales by 42 percent to 70 percent. The technology has also enabled the grocery store to reduce out-of-stock items and shrink. Shelf Engine’s technology helps ensure grocery stores have enough product on hand, but not so much that it would spoil. Kimberton Whole Foods is using Shelf Engine in all six of its stores, and plans to apply the technology to more categories in the future.



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