Cuba Set To Reopen Its Borders as Of November 15

By Alejandra Garcia on September 14, 2021 from Havana

photo: Bill Hackwell

Last week, the government of the Caribbean island announced the country will be ready to reopen its borders on November 15 when it is expected that over 90 percent of the Cuban population will be vaccinated against the COVID-19.

This announcement raised loud criticisms from the region’s ultra-right-wing circles immediately arose. How is it possible for Cuba to reopen its doors to tourism amid the highest number of cases it has experienced since the beginning of the pandemic? Does the government want everyone to get sick while trying to revive the economy?

It is almost like any hopeful positive news we put out based on science and planning we have sends the haters of Cuba into a frenzied attack of slander.

These attacks were refuted by the Cuban Ministry of Tourism and health authorities: if we are ordering this reopening it is because we will be able to immunize the majority of the population before that date, a task that very few countries can achieve despite having many more resources.

According to Ministry officials, the country will ease health protocols upon the travelers’ arrival, which does not mean lowering its guard against the disease caused by SARS-Covid – 19.

Once the island begins to receive tourists from other latitudes, health professionals will check the temperature of each visitor, perform random diagnostic tests, and will not require a negative test for the disease in those who have a vaccination card.

Unvaccinated travelers will have to present a negative PCR result performed within 72 hours prior to arrival.

“There is a concern with the word relaxation, however, there’s no need to raise alarms. Protocols implemented in the tourism sector since the beginning of the pandemic will not be loosened but reinforced. It is not about ‘easing’, it is about changing protocols on foreigners’ arrival and their mobility within the island,” Minister of Tourism Juan Carlos García Granda explained during a broadcast presentation.

On November 15, authorities will reopen local tourism, in accordance with the epidemiological situation of each territory.

“It will be a gradual opening. We are not making decisions in advance, but as a result of much consensus and analysis,” he explained.

There is a reality: the Cuban economy has been hit hard by the pandemic. Since 2020, visitor arrivals have dropped to unimaginable low levels because of the health emergency, but also due to the sanctions imposed by the current and past U.S. administrations against the island to deter tourism.

The blockade, the shadow that has haunted the island for more than 60 years, also hinders the island’s economic development, especially when it comes to access to food and medicines on the international market. And there is no way Cuba can sustain itself under these circumstances.

It makes sense that, if the population is already almost fully immunized, we think about the gradual reopening of private and public businesses, that people begin to breathe after a year of extreme efforts and strict measures to contain the virus, the official said.

“Today, we want to launch the country not only as a sun and beach destination, but to motivate people to travel to Cuba to embrace its cultural heritage,” Garcia added.

Cuba is facing the most aggressive disinformation campaign of the last decades. That is why the island must move forward amid the new “COVID-19 normality” so the world can approach and get to know its reality.

Cases of COVID-19 skyrocketed in the country in recent months, as has happened in most parts of the world. The difference is that, despite the daily high numbers of contagions and the lamentable death figures, the island shows one of the best rates in the region.

In our favor, we have five vaccines that we produce nationally with a high percentage of effectiveness. They are saving lives and millions of dollars in import expenses. We have even included pediatric ages in the national immunization campaign, which is an unprecedented feat.

The minister concluded by saying, “We will never put the health of our people at risk. We will gradually incorporate ourselves into post-pandemic life, always looking out for the most vulnerable.”

Source: Resumen Latinoamericano – English