Airlines add flights to Havana, but new US travel rules pose a challenge for Cubans | Nation

MIAMI – U.S. airlines will add daily flights to Cuba from December as the island’s government prepares to lift strict COVID-related measures on November 15th.

But these flights are likely to bring mostly Cuban-Americans on family visits to the island, as the recently imposed travel rules of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention make it very difficult for Cubans to enter the United States.

And tickets in December will make those 45 minutes between Miami and Havana expensive.

“On December 2, we are increasing our service to a daily flight between Miami and Havana,” an American Airlines spokeswoman, Laura Masvidal, told the Miami Herald. “The American will return more service as the Cuban government reopens the market.”

The airline currently operates a weekly flight. Additional flights are already listed on the company’s website and bus fares are nearly $ 1,500 for a round trip. Southwest also added daily flights in December at lower prices, but most are sold out.

Charter airlines also sell tickets, but they can also be expensive, with round-trip flights sold before the holidays for $ 1,800.

Pandemic restrictions in the two countries have left many families separated for a long time. The island’s government closed airports in March 2020 and briefly relaxed some restrictions for international travelers during that year’s holidays.

But in the face of the worst increase in COVID-19 cases earlier this year, the government issued strict quarantines for travelers and canceled many international flights. As of November 15, Cuban authorities will no longer require visitors to be quarantined for 10 days. However, travelers must present a vaccination test or a PCR test done no earlier than 72 hours before the trip.

But new U.S. requirements for international travelers threw a bucket of cold water at Cubans ’hopes of visiting.

From November 8, foreign travelers coming to the U.S. will have to show proof of being fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the World Health Organization. They must also show a copy of the negative result of a viral test done no more than three days before departure.

The island’s government said 90% of Cuba’s 11.3 million people would be fully vaccinated with locally developed products by the end of the month. However, none of the Cuban vaccines against VOCID – three called Sovereign and one called Abdala – currently have WHO emergency use authorization.

A small number of Cubans who received two shots from Sinopharm in China will be able to board flights to the U.S. because the product is on the CDC-approved vaccine list.

There are also some exceptions, including people who have a medical reason not to be vaccinated against COVID.

“We have an established process in place to guide our agents through checking the results of COVID-19 tests and other necessary documentation,” Masvidal said. “In addition, we recommend that our customers use VeriFLY, our partner and provider of a mobile health portfolio, wherever available, as a way to organize travel documentation and confirm compliance with the requirements of your destination. “. A CDC official told reporters that the best way for travelers to know if they were allowed to catch a flight to the United States was to check the centers’ website.

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