Tue | Jul 7, 2020

New Cuban tourism system to isolate visitors from population

Published:Tuesday | June 30, 2020 | 1:51 PM
The Malecon waterfront is devoid of people during a lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, June 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Ismael Francisco)

HAVANA (AP) — With the coronavirus waning in Cuba, the government plans to restart its tourism industry by sending visitors to five narrow islands that will offer all-inclusive vacations and keep foreigners isolated from the rest of the nation.

The state-run system scheduled to debut Wednesday is designed to reopen a vital source of economic activity without reintroducing the virus to the country of 11 million people, where new cases have dwindled to just a handful a day.

Tourists will take charter flights to the islands or to central Cuba, where they will take tests to detect the virus.

Those who are negative will proceed straight to their hotels or get on a bus going directly through mainland Cuba to one of the low-lying, sandy keys that are connected to the northern coast by bridges or ferries, according to recent government statements.

Anyone who tests positive will be “isolated,” presumably some combination of being quarantined and sent back home, though the details remain unclear.

Many other Caribbean islands are reopening to tourists and imposing testing on new arrivals.

But none has adopted a plan like Cuba’s that separates tourists almost entirely from the general population.

Tourist buses to the resorts will be prohibited from making stops along the way, and police officers will be assigned to each bus to enforce the rule.

Visitors will not be allowed to rent cars or take trips outside the fenced-in coastal resort areas.

There is no indication that tourists will immediately start to arrive.

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