Since November 10th, the José Martí International Airport in Havana returned to operation after months of interruption. So now, all the country’s airports are opened to international flights. There is no doubt that the resumption of these operations is good news for a nation whose economic heavily depends on tourism. However, the restart of flights to Cuba and especially to its capital is a challenge, due to the SARS-COV2 pandemic.
Can tourism and security be combined?
After a cautious reopening of other terminals last October 15th, we can now say it is. Without triumphalism, the hygienic-sanitary measures that have been implemented in the rest of the country’s airports have achieved good control and detection of visitors carrying the virus.
This is also combined with the biosafety protocols that have been complied with in hotels and private houses in other provinces. However, Havana and its international airport pose a much greater challenge. With more than two million inhabitants and a high population density, the Capital of all Cubans until very recently was kept in quarantine due to its level of infections. Without being high – compared to other cities in the world – lifting the restriction measures and at the same time incorporating the risk factor for possible cases from other countries was a difficult decision.
How is Havana receiving its visitors?
During the months in which the terminal was not in operation, major renovations were carried out. These were adapted to the new environment and new conditions imposed by the new situation and were tested during the humanitarian flights that were received since April. These include conducting PCR tests in real time upon the arrival of passengers to the island and forbiding access to the terminal for friends or relatives.
In addition, temperature measurements are taken, mandatory use of a mask, hand disinfection and distance between passengers are also required. Customs officers follow strict protective clothing standards and all the necessary medical personnel are on site to properly assess and treat visitors suspected of being carriers. All these actions demand the collection of a sanitary fee of USD 30 to passengers arriving at the country’s air terminals.
Let’s all take care of each other
When visitors arrive to their accommodation the preventive actions do not stop. All tourists must keep strict isolation for three days, while the results of their diagnostic tests are checked. During this time, and later throughout the stay, they are also monitored by the health personnel of the locality where they are staying. In addition, measures such as the correct disinfection of the hands, maintaining distance and the use of the mask in public places during the entire stay on the island are also mandatory.
Therefore, kisses and hugs from relatives and parties with friends still have to wait a little bit. This is of the utmost importance, because despite the hospitality and idiosyncrasy of the Cuban, health comes first.
It is not a paranoid desire for control, but a disease that neither visitors nor nationals would like to infect. Only by acting responsibly can a tourist destination like Havana be kept safe.