Cuba changed its strategy to face the new coronavirus through a “new normal” that includes public offices and open shops and greater mobility of citizens, but with the mandatory use of a mask and maintaining social distance.
In addition, it will no longer be compulsory to isolate in special centers to the contacts of suspicious cases as it was done until now and national and foreign passengers could be received by all airports, except in Havana.
The authorities recognized the need to jump-start the economy, hit by seven months of closures and restrictions and by US sanctions who seek to suffocate the island’s finances to force a change in the political model.
“We have never had that dilemma between health and the economy … the first thing is always the health of our people,” said the deputy prime minister and head of the country’s finances on Tuesday in an appearance on primetime television. Alejandro Gil Fernández for whom, however, the situation in the country is “very tense” in monetary terms.
Trump tests negative for Covid-19 in rapid test, his doctor reported, although this “new normal” will be applied in most of the country’s provinces after weeks of some control of the epidemic, in Havana, home to two million people and which had a complicated outbreak in August, there will still be limitations.
The authorities also asked citizens to support the state effort through self-care to prevent the transmission of the virus.
“It is very difficult to be at home, we hope that we are all aware because now it depends on all of us,” María Isabel Batista, a 58-year-old artisan, told The Associated Press.
Since March, when the first cases of COVID-19 were detected, the island has been closed to tourism, the most dynamic sector in the country and with annual revenues close to 3,000 million dollars and a similar figure for private entrepreneurs who operate houses. Accommodation, restaurants or shops.
All sectors were affected, from farmers, through transportation and services, as well as the remittances sent to the island by Cubans living abroad.
Independent state workers, emerging and still vulnerable economic actors, were among the most affected. Minister Gil Fernández indicated that 250,000 entrepreneurs (of the 600-000 existing ones) had to suspend their licenses and 150,000 state workers interrupted their activities.
According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the drop in Cuba’s Gross Domestic Product will exceed 8% this year.
“Today we are at a time when the level of discharges exceeds the daily cases (of COVID-19), in which Havana has come to be more controlled … and there is a group of provinces that have lived several months without reporting cases, “said President Miguel Díaz-Canel last week when he announced the new strategy to confront the coronavirus.