By Mayté Solano Gómez
Many of the countries of the world are already talking about the restart of normal activities. Including the reopening of borders and re-establishment of travel. In Cuba, the safety of its citizens and of all those who visit the island is paramount. Consequently, although some airlines have already started to sell tickets, the Cuban Ministry of Tourism declared that the borders will not be opened yet. Tourist services will not be activated either. Including bookings for casas particulares in Cuba. At least not until the Government decides to.
Cuba is known worldwide for its efforts, under any circumstance, to protect its population. This is even more important than the material resources that are so essential for the economic development of any nation. Thanks to this policy, the numbers of those infected with the disease and fatalities have decreased. To the point that Cuba has now had periods of 4 or 5 days with no deaths. The percentage of infection remains below 3. Unlike what is happening in most of the countries affected by the pandemic.
Cubans are aware of this policy of the country’s leadership and value it. This is shown by their comments on social media. In fact, at the beginning of the current health crisis, Cubans demanded that the government close the borders. Now, with the imminent reopening, they are still urging tourism authorities to maintain the closure until all sanitary measures to prevent contagion are assured.
Actions to improve the conditions of tourist facilities
Despite the inactivity of the tourism sector in Cuba, both the state and private sectors have been getting ready for the long-awaited reopening. In Varadero, the main Cuban beach resort in Matanzas province, a dumping of sand is being carried out. Meanwhile in Cienfuegos, Hotel Pasacaballos, maintenance and waterproofing of the lobby deck, painting, as well as the completion of the floor and restoration of the specialized restaurant are underway.
Likewise, the terrace of the Palacio de Valle, a jewel of Cienfuegos architecture belonging to the Gran Caribe Chain, is being repared. Rooms out of order are also being rehabilitated in the Hotel Rancho Luna, where the decor and interior design of the buffet restaurant have also been changed.
The new “normal”
At least in the first few months after the return to normal activities and until the cure for the coronavirus is found, it will be necessary to maintain sanitary measures to prevent the spread of the disease.
Social distancing will be one of them. This means continuing with the minimum separation of 1.5 meters. Only small numbers of people will be able to meet at any one time. Therefore, restaurants, clubs and other recreational centers will have to redesign their operating proceduress.
Surface disinfection and hand washing is mandatory. In those more crowded places, with a greater influx of people, the frequency of these actions will be higher. Doors, tables and chair handles, floors and walls will be disinfected. Soap, bleach and detergent will always be on hand.
Difficult times for the owners of casas particulares in Cuba
Fortunately for the owners of casas particulares in Cuba, the government approved the temporary suspension of the exercise of the activity to all those who requested it. Therefore, they will not pay taxes on behalf of incomes that they are not currently receiving. However, once activities are restarted in the self-employed sector related to tourism, this will surely change.
It will be a challenge to return to the level of reserves and incomes they had before the coronavirus. Therefore, the payment of taxes will have to be resumed, but in a different way from what was implemented before the pandemic. The lack of solvency that many of the owners may have must be taken into account. Even for other businesses besides accommodation, such as restaurants, bars, nightclubs and transportation.
In any case, tourists who visit Cuba after the Coronavirus will be able to count on their health security, as well as the always happy and easy-going character of the Cuban. Undoubtedly.