As coronavirus cases rise, Cuba shuts down tourism


Cuba shuts down tourism as coronavirus cases rise. Only Cubans returning home can enter the island.

Cuba shuts down tourism as coronavirus cases rise. Only Cubans returning home can enter

After weeks of insisting the island was open for tourism in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, Cuban leader Miguel Díaz-Canel announced Friday night that the country is shutting down most air travel and will not be admitting tourists starting Tuesday.

Only Cubans who reside on the island and foreign citizens who are permanent residents or work on the island will be able to re-enter the country, he said in the live television show “Mesa Redonda” — Round Table.

Commercial cargo will not be affected by the measure that will stay in place for at least a month.

Around 60,000 tourists currently in the country will be able to leave freely, but they are being encouraged to do so in the next 72 hours, because flights might not be available in the future due to the travel restrictions implemented by other countries, Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero said.

Marrero said the country was not “closing its borders but regulating entry.”

The prime minister said most government-run hotels are expected to close by next week. And he encouraged the owners of private hostels and Airbnbs to ask their guests to leave in time to catch a flight. Marrero said around 11,600 travelers are staying in private accommodations.

The wording used to announce the measures suggests that Cubans who live permanently abroad will also not be allowed back, and that Cubans on the island won’t be able to travel overseas.

Marrero said more detailed information will follow soon.

The announcement came after suspected cases of coronavirus in the country jumped to 716, and 21 have been confirmed to have the virus. One Italian tourist has died.

During the show, Cubans were advised to adopt social-distancing measures and avoid unnecessary travel. Still, both Díaz-Canel and Marrero fell short of announcing more drastic steps, such as quarantines or the closing of schools, which some people in Cuba have been calling for.

Source: Miami Herald

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