By Mayté Solano Gómez
Since last July, Cuba opened its borders to international tourism. At first, only cayos (keys) Coco, Santa María, Cruz, Guillermo y Largo received the visitors. In October, international tourism operations resumed in all the provinces declared a new normal. The tourist hub of Varadero opened its doors this same month, while in November it was announced in Havana, the capital of all Cubans, the resumption of the operation of the José Martí International Airport, the main one on the island.
In any case, a group of strictly compliant sanitary measures were defined and implemented at the island’s international airports. At present, the sanitary protocols applicable to tourist activity not only include measures for airport facilities but also cover other routes of entry to the country, as well as matters relating to the stay of tourists, from their arrival to their departure.
Health protocol at international airports in Cuba for international tourists
Upon the arrival of foreign tourists or any person arriving through an international entry point and who is going to interact with the population, the PCR test is carried out, the results of which are available 48 hours after the test are performed, sanitary authorities take the temperature of passengers and crew members and baggage is disinfested. Measures have also been taken to ensure physical distancing and hand disinfection. Each of these people must fill out a declaration of health.
Similar measures are applied in the other access routes to the island, such as international ports and marinas, while pleasure boats and cruise ships are also allowed to enter and stay in Cuban territorial waters.
In the accommodation sites in Cuba
In hotels, rental houses and tourist villas, communication mechanisms established allow to detect in time any sick person or with symptoms of the coronavirus. From their arrival, epidemiological surveillance is established that ranges from 48 hours to 10 days after arriving in Cuba, depending on whether you are a tourist or a resident of the island. Therefore, every traveller who arrives in the country must stay in isolation and comply with all the additional measures that have been established, such as the use of means of protection, social distancing and minimal contact with the Cuban population. In any case, the end of this period is marked by the knowledge of the result of the PCR carried out at the airport.
Likewise, all international travellers are obliged to report immediately to any health institution if they show symptoms of a communicable disease. In the case of positive PCR, symptomatic tourists are transferred to a hospital, while those who do not develop symptoms go to total isolation, but are admitted to hotels adapted as hospitals. The contacts of these cases are immediately isolated in the tourist facilities under a regime of surveillance and protection. (They cannot be in contact with the rest of the clients).
During the stay in Cuba of foreign tourists
After complying with the required isolation period until the result of the PCR carried out upon arrival on the island is known, the foreign tourist who is negative may continue to enjoy their stay, knowing that:
• Clients have no restrictions, except in the case of transport, where the use of a mask is mandatory.
• In addition to the beaches, visitors can also enjoy excursions, nautical activities, circuits and health programs.
Some things that could be and some useful tips in Cuba for international tourists
For Cubans, the issue of personal and family health and safety is essential, both for the government and from an individual point of view. Therefore, do not be surprised if any owner of a private house where you are going to stay asks you, before your arrival, for the result of the PCR with less than 48 hours of completion. This will not only benefit the Cuban but also the visitor since the measures taken in Cuba for international tourists and locals as well to prevent contagion will help all of them stay healthy.
Finally, bear in mind that a process of economic and monetary reordering is underway in Cuba. As of January 1, 2021, only one currency will circulate in the country, the Cuban peso, although in some businesses and markets the use of other freely convertible currencies will continue. This means that, for Cubans, access to currencies such as the Euro, the US Dollar or the British Pound is really necessary.
Concerning tourism, credit cards (Visa, MasterCard) may be used in some state establishments and to pay certain services, while in private businesses they may accept payment in cash, in Euros or USD. Therefore, before changing currency to Cuban Peso, inform yourself well and do not hesitate to ask for advice from the contacts you have in Cuba, either in your future accommodation or through any travel agency. Direct contact with the information you can get through the websites will always be better.
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