MEXICO CITY — At first, life in lockdown was OK, between working from home, exercising with his roommate and devouring everything on Netflix.
But as the coronavirus pandemic wore endlessly on, Rob George began to find the confinement in his West Hollywood home unbearable.
“There were weeks where I just wouldn’t leave my house, just working all day — my mental health was definitely suffering,” said George, 31, who manages business operations for a technology startup.
So when a Mexican friend said he was traveling to Mexico City in November, George decided to tag along. Now, he’s calling the Mexican capital home — part of an increasing number of foreigners, mainly Americans, who are heading to Mexico, for a short trip or a longer stay to escape restrictions at home.
They are drawn partly by the prospect of bringing a little normalcy to their lives in a place where coronavirus restrictions have been more relaxed than at home, even as cases of COVID-19 shatter records. Some of them are staying, at least for a while, and taking advantage of the six-month tourist visa that Americans are granted on arrival.
“I have no interest in going back,” George said.
But while coming to this country may be a relief for many foreigners, particularly those fleeing colder weather, some Mexicans find the move irresponsible amid a pandemic, especially as the virus overwhelms Mexico City and its hospitals. Others say the problem lies with Mexican authorities, who waited too long to enact strict lockdown measures, making places like Mexico City enticing to outsiders.
“If it was less attractive, fewer people would come,” said Xavier Tello, a Mexico City health policy analyst. “But 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.”
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