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Cuba to reopen tourism in phases, limit excursions to keys

Friday, June 12th 2020, 12:57 pm - The epicentre of the pandemic and the worst of the pandemic is in Havana, therefore Havana is going to take a little longer to re-open to the rest of the municipalities and the rest of the provinces during the different phases.

The island nation of Cuba is looking forward to reopening its borders but the government announced on Wednesday (June 10) it would do so in phases.

Nidialys Acosta, one of the owners of an old cars rental service called "Nostalgicar," welcomed the news but knows things will change, with low tourism numbers expected in the foreseeable future.

Another "Nostalgicar," owner, Julio Alvarez, said he was happy he had been able to catch up with vehicle maintenance but complained about struggling to import auto parts from the United States.

UNSPLASH: Cuba - SOURCE: Alex Meier @alexmeier19 Mayarí, Cuba. Source: Unsplash/Alex Meier

Visit our Complete Guide to Summer 2020 for an in-depth look at the Summer Forecast, tips to plan for it and much more

Reopening will be limited at first to the beach resorts at the keys of the Caribbean's largest island, Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz said on Wednesday (June 10).

Unveiling cautious plans for lifting Cuba's partial lockdown, Marrero Cruz said specialists would conduct epidemiological monitoring at hotels, where occupation would be limited. Excursions would be restricted to the keys.

Visitors would not be able to visit Havana, the center of Cuba's outbreak, at first.

In his presentation to the council of ministers, reported by state-run media, Marrero Cruz did not give a time frame for the reopening to tourism, one of the cash-strapped country's top sources of hard currency.

The prime minister said Cuba would open first to domestic tourism and further details would be announced soon.

New cases have dropped to less than 10 per day on average from a peak of around 50, and two thirds of the island is virus-free, according to official data.

A cluster of other Caribbean islands have already opened to international tourism or will do so this month - with tests mandatory for some and not for others.

Marrero Cruz said public pools would reopen for summer at 30 percent capacity. Beaches will also reopen, with local authorities ensuring social distancing, but summer carnivals will not take place this year.

Schools will reopen in September to finish the current year with the new one starting in November, while public and private transport will be restored gradually, he said.

Face masks will remain obligatory in all public spaces in a first phase, and then in spaces with a concentration of people.

(Production: Nelson Gonzalez, Anett Rios, Rodrigo Gutierrez, Geraldine Downer)

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