Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Cuba to impose public transport and commercial restrictions as of April 10. Localized isolation and curfews enforced.

This alert affects Cuba

This alert began 10 Apr 2020 09:30 GMT and is scheduled to expire 24 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-related restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: International and internal transport disruptions, significant business disruptions

Summary
Authorities in Cuba will impose various commercial restrictions as of April 10, as well as public transport restrictions beginning April 11. These measures are an escalation of other internal measures, including the closure of schools, universities, gyms, social, cultural centers, and theaters, as well as restrictions on the operations of bars and restaurants.

  • All stores will only be permitted to sell food, and cleaning and hygiene products. Some large chain stores are likely to close. All shopping malls in Havana will be closed to the public and all food stores nationwide are required to close at 2000.
  • The government will also suspend all forms of public transport in rural and urban zones from April 11; this is in addition to the current suspension on all intermunicipal transport. Cargo trucks will not be permitted to carry passengers. Essential transport, such as medical services, will be allowed to operate; however, the use of a face mask is mandated.


Local authorities have also imposed additional measures in certain parts of the country. Authorities in Santiago de Cuba have imposed a nightly curfew, beginning 1900 through daybreak, until further notice. Other neighborhoods and municipalities are enforcing total isolation measures due to COVID-19 activity. Entrance to and exit from these areas are mostly prohibited, as are public movements, including in:

  • The El Carmelo area in Vedado, Havana (La Habana)
  • El Cerro municipality (La Habana)
  • Camilo Cienfuegos area in Pinar del Rio (Pinar del Rio)
  • Consolacion del Sur municipality (Pinar del Rio)
  • Cabaiguan municipality (Sancti Spiritus)
  • Gibara municipality (Holguin)


Authorities previously suspended all inbound and outbound international commercial and charter passenger flights. Cargo operations and humanitarian flights will be able to continue; airport officials have stated that noncommercial cargo will no longer be processed at cargo terminals. The government has also requested all foreign sea-going vessels withdraw from Cuban waters, with limited exceptions. Nonresident foreign nationals were banned from entering Cuba beginning March 24; nonresident foreigners already in the country are required to remain quarantined at their place of accommodation.

The government is likely to expand its preventative measures and movement restrictions locally over the coming days and weeks. Local authorities could also impose their own movement restrictions in the form of curfews, quarantines, and isolation zones, which will likely cause major transport and business disruptions. All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by the Cuban authorities are similar to actions taken by other governments globally in recent weeks in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic March 11.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int

Government of Cuba - COVID-19 (Spanish): www.presidencia.gob.cu