pic: Persnickety Prints on Unsplash
No, it is not yet time to claim victory or to think that the worst for Cuba has passed. But it is definitely nice to receive good news, after so many months — years now — of confinement and hardship. The recent announcement that the measures that restrict tourism will begin to relax in November 15th brings hope.
It should be remembered that in November of last year, with the Covid-19 pandemic relatively under control, there was also a more flexible access to our borders. But the good news didn´t last long and soon the delta variant of the virus appeared. Despite the health precautions that were taken at that time, our country suffered an important outbreak.
What has changed now?
Despite the fact that the number of new cases of SARCOV-2 is still high, since last June the population began to be inoculated with three vaccines of national production: Abdala, Soberana 02 and Soberana Plus.
The results of the clinical studies carried out so far have given very encouraging results regarding the ability of these vaccines to create immunity to the virus. Furthermore, they have been shown to significantly reduce the development of the most severe cases. Vaccination has also been extended to the pediatric population.
As vaccination progresses in a higher percentage of the population, logically the risk of contagion should decrease. By November, it is estimated that, at the current rate of immunization, 92.6% of the 11.2 million Cubans will have completed their three-dose schedule.
Taking the official figures, the infection rate in Havana – in which the percentage of vaccinated is higher than in the rest of the provinces – has been gradually decreasing.
The promise of a better future
Taking these forecasts into account, the Ministry of Tourism announced that in two months the protocols to be able to travel to Cuba will be relaxed. A PCR test will not be required upon arrival, vaccination certificates will be accepted and isolation measures upon arrival on the island will be restricted only to patients with symptoms.
In conjunction with these measures and depending on the epidemiological situation of each province, services will begin in many tourist facilities that have been closed since the beginning of the pandemic. In fact, many hotels have already begun to reincorporate their workers – who have been unemployed during these months – to complete their workforce and begin to prepare their facilities in anticipation of the high season of international tourism.
The reality is that since April 2, 2020, when Cuba closed its borders to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the tourism industry was also paralyzed. This is one of the largest contributors to the state budget and was also a source of income for many workers, including those who provided services as “Cuentapropistas”.
I am really possitive about the prediction of the scientists regarding the pandemic in Cuba. Tourism will bring once again prosperity to Cubans.
As Silvio Rodríguez’s song says, “Ojalá!” I keep my fingers crossed.