Cuba will start tomorrow, Thursday 18, its progressive reopening plan after the coronavirus epidemic, except in the territories of Havana and Matanzas, the only ones in the country that still report cases of the disease, as announced this Tuesday by Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero.
The first of the three phases that make up the “post-COVID-19 recovery stage will take effect after analyzing health indicators such as the incidence rate per inhabitant and the number of active cases in each province,” Marrero said in a state television report.
— Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez (@DiazCanelB) June 17, 2020
Cuba, which closed its borders on April 2, but at no time has decreed mandatory confinement, to date has 2,273 confirmed COVID-19 infections and 84 deaths, with a recovery rate of 87.8% and 193 active cases of the disease at this time, the majority in the capital (154).
“We are asking the population for the maximum collaboration in the need to not lower their guard, maintain physical distance and sanitary measures in order to start this gradual transition to normality, minimizing the risks,” said the prime minister in a meeting presided over by President Miguel Díaz-Canel.
The government recently declared the coronavirus epidemic under control and announced last week the reopening plan after almost three months of restrictions, which are still in place despite the fact that the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud and thirteen of the fifteen Cuban provinces have not reported cases for more than two weeks.
At the time the authorities didn’t specify start dates but they anticipated that this week it could begin if “incidents don’t occur” that would modify the disease curve.
Although Matanzas “is evolving favorably” in the control of COVID-19, it still doesn’t comply with all the health indicators, so it was decided to delay the de-escalation process in that territory, Marrero explained.
It had already been anticipated that Havana, the epicenter of the epidemic in the country, would be the last region to relax the current restrictions, which include mandatory use of the facemask outside the home, the suspension of public transportation and the total closure of borders with exceptions.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AND NATIONAL TOURISM
In the first phase of the recovery stage, some measures are maintained such as the use of the facemask in public spaces, the suspension of classes and the limitation of capacity in public spaces, but public transportation will return in cities and between municipalities of a same province.
Hospital services will also restart at 50% of capacity and the autonomous or “self-employed” sector will resume its activities.
Tourism is open only to Cubans, not including the keys to the north and south of the island, intended to accommodate international travelers who will be limited to that part of the territory when the second phase of reopening begins.
Commercial flights remain suspended―foreign tourists from the second phase will arrive on charter flights―so the island will remain closed to non-residents until the third and last phase of the first stage comes into effect.
Predictably this will apply to the entire country, contrary to phases 1 and 2 that will take effect interchangeably in each territory according to their health situation.
The government has not specified what is the planned schedule or the minimum indicators necessary for Havana and Matanzas to begin the de-escalation process, which could take time in the case of the capital, where several outbreaks of the virus have emerged in recent days.