Despite a recent surge in Covid-19 cases in Cuba, the country plans to ease entry restrictions for travelers starting in mid-November, according to a statement from the Ministry of Tourism.
"Taking into account the progress in the vaccination process in Cuba, its demonstrated effectiveness and the perspective that more than 90% of the population will be vaccinated, conditions are being prepared to gradually open the country's borders as of Nov. 15," the Ministry said.
Cuba plans to ramp up its vaccination process in the coming days to meet the 90% rate, according to the Miami Herald. Health authorities reported that Cuba registered 93 deaths and 7,771 new cases on Sept. 6. Cuba is using locally produced Abdala and Soberana vaccines.
Related: The latest entry requirements for traveling to the Caribbean
Although Cuba's borders did reopen last fall to limited commercial flights when its Covid case numbers were waning, visitors initially were restricted to coastal beach resorts which have always been off-limits to American visitors, who must not engage in tourist activities and who must travel under specific categories, the most popular being Support for the Cuban People.
The entry requirements put in place at that time, and which are still in effect, include a PCR test 72 hours before arrival, another test upon arrival, proof of medical insurance and mandatory quarantine until day five of a trip, when another PCR test is administered.
Updated Cuba entry requirements
The new entry regulations will eliminate the PCR test prior to arrival and on arrival as well as the quarantine period, according to the Ministry. "Health protocols will focus on monitoring symptomatic travelers and taking temperature checks upon arrival. In addition, diagnostic tests will be performed randomly, PCR will not be required upon arrival and the traveler's vaccination certificate will be recognized."
It is unclear from the Ministry's statement that proof of vaccination will be mandatory, however.
Tom Popper, Cuba expert and former president of InsightCuba, views the move as "good news, but let's hope that the Cuban vaccine holds its efficacy against the delta variant and others. Cuba has suffered mightily under Covid, with tourism shuttered for so long. The key will be whether commercial carriers increase the frequency of flights. This is definitely an issue for the U.S. market.
"I think Cuban Americans with family in Cuba will present an immediate boom in flight demand, since they've been separated from family for so long," he said.