As the number of COVID-19 infections in Cuba has dropped in recent weeks, 16-year-old Melanie Mayorka, who allows tourists to open its doors on November 15, says “this is a relief.”
Dressed in a beautiful red dress, the young woman joins her friends at Havana’s famous Boulevard Malegaon, which has been revived since restrictions and curfews were lifted.
“It’s very difficult to be separated from your friends (…), only now will we find ourselves because the situation has improved,” he said.
Taking a picture of herself with her comrades, Melanie adds: “We have been in prison for a long time, which is understandable because the number of cases was so high, but now that it has dropped, we can continue our activities.”
On November 15, Cuba will return to normalcy, with more than a million students returning to school and reopening to international tourism, until then a sharp reduction in flights and the closure of hotels and restaurants. Island.
The aim is to revive the economy that has lost foreign exchange from tourism for months, exacerbating food and drug shortages.
In the first half of the year, the country received only 21.8% of the audience from the same period of 2020, with a population of 1.2 million. The government expects two million by 2022, half of what it receives each year before the epidemic.
“We are moving towards a restricted and phased reopening, with a guarantee that at least 90% of the population will be vaccinated by November 15,” Tourism Minister Juan Carlos Garcia recently promised.
Currently, 7.3 million Cubans are vaccinated with locally developed vaccines (and are awaiting WHO approval) or 64.9% of the population.
The island, which hopes to have everyone vaccinated by the end of 2021, has not recovered from a new wave of epidemic violence due to the delta variation, which has shaken its health system nationally since July.
On September 20, he announced a further 8,544 new daily cases. As of Monday, only 633 people out of a population of 11.2 million.
At the State University of So Paulo (Brazil), Cuban researcher Amilcar Perez-Riverol of the Fabs Foundation sees a dual effect: the vaccine, but also the combination immunity.
“Cuba was vaccinated, while 100,000 citizens were one of the worst epidemics in the world,” he explains on Twitter. Now “this fall is the result of the vaccine and the costly effect of immunization, which has been proven in all countries affected by the waves caused by the delta”.
Zayda Santana, 52, of Obispo Street on the sidewalk in Havana, says, “I admire, it’s so beautiful.” Having worked with the elderly, she had been “two years” without this mall.
Nearby hotels and restaurants have reopened in hopes of attracting 100,000 tourists by the end of December, the traditionally highest season in Cuba.
To make things easier, the government cancels the isolation duty upon arrival on November 7, and then on the 15th, a PCR check was carried out at the airport. Tourists must submit proof of vaccination or negative PCR test only within 72 hours.
The famous “Almendrones”, those old colored American sedans, are also waiting for the start signal.
Driving tourists to these antiques, the 33-year-old driver, who wore black glasses and a cowboy hat, said, “This is better than working for the government. You will always earn a little more.” For two years, in the absence of clients, he had to return to his old job: accountant.
“I’m so happy, we’ll all meet again,” says Ronald Ibanez, a 25-year-old dancer who trains to take a break dance in the street.
But he warns: “The dream is not completely over, we must try to live differently, with a new nature”.