Like many other countries, Cuba has also taken measures to combat the coronavirus (Covid-19). These measures affect tourist travel to the country. Read up on the current state of affairs involving travel to Cuba and how to apply for the mandatory visa.
Coronavirus in Cuba: The figures
Cuba managed to keep the number of coronavirus infections relatively low last year. Recently, however, the number of infections and deaths has increased dramatically. The country has so far reported 602,526 infections and 4,710 deaths due to the coronavirus. In early July, Cuba was recording 6,000 new infections per day. About half of all infections occurred in the province of Matanzas. In one of his daily television broadcasts in early July, the national director for epidemiology, Dr Francisco Durán, said that the coronavirus situation in Cuba was worse than ever.
The number of coronavirus infections in Cuba has been rising since the beginning of the year. Unlike other countries, Cuba has decided to use vaccines that it produces itself. The main vaccine used in Cuba is the Abdala vaccine, which according to the most recent tests is 92% effective against the coronavirus, putting it on a par with Pfizer and Moderna. 43.7% of the population has had at least one shot, 27.6% is fully vaccinated. The Cuban government expects to vaccinate the entire population this year. However, the country also suffers from the very strict American embargo that has been in place since 1960. According to the Cuban government, the embargo makes it more difficult to purchase the necessary medical supplies.
Travelling to Cuba: mandatory PCR tests
In November 2020, Cuba opened its borders to tourism. However, due to the sharp increase in the number of Covid-19 cases, the UK government advises against travelling to the country. At the moment, there are also heavy protests in some parts of the country. If you do travel to Cuba, a number of measures must be observed.
Since 10 January 2021, all travellers to Cuba must be able to present a negative PCR test result. This test must have been taken within 72 hours before travel. On arrival, a PCR test will be taken again. No exceptions are made for children. In addition, everyone who travels to Cuba must fill in a health declaration. The form requires certain information, including the address of where you will stay while in Cuba. Since 1 December 2020, there is a "sanitary" surcharge of $30 on all air tickets with destination Cuba. All travellers must have comprehensive travel insurance with coverage for Covid-19.
Quarantine and coronavirus measures
Travellers must undergo post-arrival quarantine in a government-designated facility (such as a hotel accredited for this purpose). This quarantine lasts until a second PCR test is taken (usually on the fifth day). If this test is also negative, the traveller is free to travel through the country. In case of a positive test result, the traveller is obliged to go to hospital or to a quarantine facility, even if the PCR test taken 72 hours before departure was negative. The costs of tests and the hospital stay must be paid for by the traveller. Paying by credit card is possible, but the UK government advises the traveller to bring cash in case the card does not work
Wearing a mask is mandatory in public areas, as is keeping a distance of 1.5 metres. There is a limit to the number of people that can be in a shop at a time, so queues may occur.
There is a curfew in the Havana area from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Restaurants are only allowed to deliver food, and food can be picked up. Bars, discos, cinemas, theatres, sports fields and other recreational facilities are closed. Public transport is suspended from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. It is forbidden to be in parks and other public places after 7 p.m. Travel between Havana and other parts of the country is not possible by public transport. Controls and restrictions at city limits are also to be expected for private vehicles. There may be shortages of daily food and medicine.
Cuba visa application
In addition to the mandatory PCR test, travellers to Cuba must also have a Cuba visa in their possession. The Cuba visa is a paper card that can be applied for online. All residents of the European Union and the UK who travel to Cuba need a visa. Even minors need to have their own visa.
The Cuba visa has a tear-off line in the middle. After approval, the visa is sent by post. This card must be taken to Cuba. Upon arrival in Cuba, one part of the paper visa is torn off. When leaving the country, the other part will be taken.
The Cuba visa is valid for 30 days. Unlike visas for some other countries, the validity of the Cuban visa only starts when the traveller arrives in the country and not when the visa is issued. After arrival, the Cuba visa can be extended by 30 days for a total validity of 60 days if necessary.