(Updated on 21st November 2020)
Havana airport is open from 15th November
Yes! It’s exciting. Havana José Marti airport is officially opening on the 15th November after closing up shop back in March.
BUT before you start packing your suncream and new bikini, there are some logistics that you need to know about. Because until there is a vaccine and we’ve all been jabbed with it, travel to Cuba during COVID is looking a little different.
What will happen when we land at the airport
When you get off the plane, you will have to take a corona-virus test and it is compulsory for all travellers entering the country. Whether you’re a tourist, resident, or citizen.
This test is no longer free. It will cost *around* 40CUC/USD (price, currency and method of payment is TBC).
Once you’ve been tested, you must go directly to your accommodation. You can stay in a casa (private if you’re resident/family visa), casa particular (e.g. AirBnB), or a hotel.
You must quarantine for 7 days.
You will receive the results of the first test you took in the airport within 48 hours. Then, on day 5, you take a second test. Once you get the results of this second test (up to 48 hours), you’re free to go.
If you’re going to stay with a boyfriend/girlfriend/friend, they can quarantine with you under the same rules.
If the test result is positive...
… you will be taken to a quarantining centre. It won’t be pleasant. You will be there for up to two weeks and you will hate it. SO DO A DAMN TEST OR THREE BEFORE YOU LEAVE YOUR COUNTRY OR JUST DON’T COME AT ALL.
We currently don’t have much intel about what the facilities for foreigners are like. However I can tell you that as well as not being pleasant, it most likely won’t be free, and you have to abide by their rules. Even kicking and screaming and offering more money won’t get you anywhere in a Cuban quarantining unit.
So think about it – do you really want to take the risk of spending 2 weeks in a corona-prison? No? Then do your tests, wear your mask, and don’t even get on that plane if there is ANY possibility that you could be carrying the virus.
If the test result is negative...
…there are some grey areas still, but here is what we understand as of 14th November (and I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but don’t shoot the messenger):
You will have to take A SECOND TEST on day 5 of your stay and then wait another 2 days or so for that result to come in.
So, I’ll do the math for you. You’ll need to quarantine for 7 days in total, or until the results of the second PCR test come through.
Other things you need to know:
Basically, Cuba isn’t equipped for short trips right now. It seems like they’re gearing up for families or partners to come for longer stays. If you’re a tourist looking for a quick blast of winter sun, right now Cuba is not for you unless you’ll happily quarantine for 7 days.
If you choose to quarantine in a ‘casa particular’, you will need to book for at least 6 nights. You won’t be able to swap accommodations mid-stay.
The owner of the casa particular will be responsible for you. This means that if you disobey the rules in any way (e.g. ignoring your quarantining time), you will be told to leave the country but the owner will face severe judicial sentences for being complicit in the spread of disease. Because, Cuba. So think twice before your selfishness inflicts unjust legal action on your innocent accommodation host.
Why Cuba's opening is dividing opinion
It’s a really tricky topic and everyone has their own opinion on what is for the best. But here are the facts:
Cuba has been closed since 24th March 2020. The last 8 months have been incredibly difficult for those on the island.
Not only have they been struggling (yet succeeding) to keep the virus at bay, but they have been dealing with an extreme shortage of food, no work, no basic household and hygiene essentials, no access to hard currency (the CUC is on its way out and the USD is now in demand)
So at this point, Cuba needs to open. The economy is on it’s knees. If it remains closed for much longer, or has to go back to closing again, people will not be able to feed their families. It’s that simple.
But of course, as ever, the idea of Cuba opening and tourists from around the world flocking in their thousands for some escapism and sun, brings risk of a coronavirus escalation. If Cuba has to close again because of this, the people will starve and suffer worse than before.
SO SHOULD I ACTUALLY COME TO CUBA RIGHT NOW?
YES. Please, please visit Cuba. But just do so responsibly:
Do your research (drop us an email with any questions or concerns and we can help).
Come with plenty of time. Come expecting to isolate for the first week, so book a nice accommodation. Enjoy a few days reading and relaxing in your accommodation, and then be free to safely explore an almost COVID-free island.
Plan your trip well. Think about going to places where you can socially distance and support the locals at the same time. Viñales is perfect for this (trying not to be biased, but it really is the best place to social distance!). Here you can spend your days mixing with the locals but you’ll be out in the open air as it’s a very outdoorsy place.
Keep updated with the current measures in place – follow us on social media for updates.
And make sure you come to support the Cuban people, because they really need you right now. So don’t start haggling to save yourself 10USD, because that 10USD will feed a family of 5 for a long time. You may have had it tough, but the Cubans have it tougher. I guarantee you that.
The situation is ever evolving and I will keep this blog post current with any updates.
The above information is based on the meeting held by the CDP on the 13th November, meaning this information has come from the top. It may be that your family doctors, nurses and authorities might not know this information, or might do things ‘their own way’. This is often the case in Cuba, so you will need to keep an open mind and a flexible schedule.
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