Foreign tourists and Cuban Americans are returning to Havana after the Jose Martí International Airport reopened Sunday. The flights were the first in more than seven months to the Cuban capital, since Cuba closed the country to all international travelers because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to news reports, more than 20 commercial flights arrived Sunday from the United States, Europe, Central America and other Caribbean islands. There were pictures from Miami television stations of long lines of Cuban Americans checking in for some of the first flights to Havana from Florida.
In one report, Francisco Duran, an official of the Cuban Ministry of Health, said every passenger would be given a PCR test at the airport, and told to self-isolate in their hotel or family residences until they are notified of the test results, and then, after five days, they must be tested again to confirm the first test result. The airport director, Manuel Lopez, was also quoted as saying the airport is observing all necessary health and disinfectant protocols for arriving passengers.
From Cigar Aficionado’s local sources, restaurants have been open now for several weeks but operating at 50-percent capacity, and hotels are also open for visitors. There was no confirmation about Casas del Habano as of today. Local residents say that masks are required at all times when outside in public places, with fines imposed for ignoring the requirement. People are allowed to remove a mask while eating in a restaurant, or smoking in a cigar lounge, but smoking is not allowed on the streets.
Since mid-October, Americans who wish to travel to Cuba also are subject to much tighter restrictions than before the pandemic began. The U.S. government has limited the scope of what travelers can do under the 12 categories of permitted legal travel to Cuba. While previously, a U.S. citizen could self-declare how they were legally traveling to Cuba, now they must be part of a company tour that is allowed to organize visits to Cuba by the U.S. Treasury Department. The U.S. government also published an extensive list of hotels and restaurants in Havana and other Cuban cities which Americans are not allowed to frequent because of their links to the Cuban government or the Cuban military.
Americans are also no longer allowed to return to the United States with Cuban cigars or rum. While in Cuba, (or other countries) they can purchase and consume those products, but may not import them to the United States.