Cuba is no longer libre (free) for foreign travellers. After decades in which tourists have been able to wander without restrictions, the communist government of the Caribbean’s largest island has imposed draconian new rules in a bid to control the spread of coronavirus.
As the health ministry in Havana announced 36 new cases of Covid-19 across the country, all flights in and out of Cuba have been banned – with the exception of repatriation flights agreed at a governmental level.
All foreign vessels have been ordered to leave Cuban waters.
Anyone who arrived between 17 and 23 March will be retrospectively tested for coronavirus. This could include some British travellers: the Foreign Office warning against non-essential travel abroad was issued on 17 March after flights had departed.
Overseas tourists are being funnelled into a few “foreigner hotspots”.
Tourists are confined to their hotels. Anyone who is staying in a casa particular – a private house with rooms rented to tourists – must stay inside the dwelling until transport arrives to move them to a government hotel.
While that journey will be free, the tourist will pay the bill for the hotel.
The Foreign Office says: “Tourists who did not leave on the scheduled commercial flights (last one on 1 April 2020) will have to stay in a designated hotel until the government of Cuba reviews the measures.”
But the UK embassy in Havana has told British travellers that they can sign up for a repatriation flight to Rome. Blue Panorama is operating from the Cuban capital to Rome Fiumicino on 5 April 2020.
Cuba has long boasted the best health service in the Caribbean – and arguably the whole of Latin America.
Early on in the Covid-19 crisis, a group of Cuban doctors flew to Italy to help with the medical effort in the worst-affected European country. Health care teams from Cuba are also working in other countries.
Any tourists who fall ill while in Cuba will not be allowed to leave the country until they have settled their medical bills.