By Aurelio Pedroso (Progreso Semanal)
HAVANA TIMES – The question and its cautious explanation has just been taken on and responded to in part by doctor Francisco Duran Garcia, the national director of Epidemiology, at the Cuban Public Health Ministry, in a public address: treatment for tourists when they first step foot on the island once borders open up again.
Of course, the highest authorities must be putting together a rigorous, essential and much-needed plan into shape, to get the tourist industry up and running again once COVID-19 allows for it.
A task or responsibility that he has to take on and inform the head of State and government, as well as getting the green light from Public Health authorities, of course, which will present corresponding measures such as the helpful health or zero symptoms of infection passport, among other alternatives. Duran has explained this by noting that “one day, when the border does open, measures will be more rigorous, based on international regulations.”
A long time ago, when Osmany Cienfuegos – a vice president of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Tourism in the 1990s – was asked something like what options would US visitors have if Europe and the rest of the world visited the island, he replied that they would have “an island submerged in the sea”, clearly alluding to plans to exploit the excellent beaches located in the northern keys of the Villa Clara, Ciego de Avila and Camaguey provinces, mostly.
This scenario, which already has almost perfect infrastructure in place, including airports that could cater for worldwide flights, might be the starting point for kicking tourism off again on the island. It would require an extraordinary effort on behalf of the Cubans who work there, in terms of protection and quarantine measures they would have to follow.
The warning to prepare us for this possibility came recently from the President and Prime Minister in one of their daily briefings, when they give us an update about the island’s situation in its fight against this lethal Coronavirus.
Up until now, there have been encouraging signs both in controlling the epidemic as well as several international airlines asking for a runway to land on in June. Even so, joy should be restrained and restrictions need to be upheld to prevent a second spike.
The green light for tourism needs a lot of wisdom in its application. Finding the right time to do this. It can’t be too soon, or too late. The country and its people depend upon it.