14ymedio, Roma Díaz, Varadero, 6 July 2020 — Waiting for Matanzas province to enter the second phase of the Covid-19 de-escalation, Varadero, the main tourist destination on the Island, warms up its engines with the arrival of national travelers. According to official data, more than 1,000 Cubans were enjoying the spa this weekend.
The reopening of Havana has increased the number of visitors compared to the previous week, when the official press highlighted the tranquility of the Varadero beaches on their first weekend back to a certain normality.
“Despite the heat, there is respect for the discipline, for distancing and there is no crowding on the beach,” said the Cuban News Agency. The residents of the area, however, not only denounced what they considered a large influx; they also protested a return to everyday life, which, for them, is the return to trash and the neglect that is related to national tourists.
“The saddest thing is that during the more than 100 days of quarantine, the beach was spotless, and one day after opening, the beach is already a pigsty: beer cans, wrappings of all kinds, baby diapers, cigarette packets, scattered everywhere. It is a shame that we are such pigs. If the authorities do not take measures and fine those who leave the garbage, I do not know where we are going to go. A lack of respect for the nature and for all of us who live here,” said Manuel Rodríguez, a resident of the area.
This weekend more than 900 visitors were registered in Varadero hotels such as Villas Kawama and Tortuga, Meliá Internacional and Memories Varadero, in Gaviota, said Mario Sabines Lorenzo, governor of Matanzas.
In this quarantine season, Varadero has undertaken some remodeling works, including a new boulevard between 61st and 64th streets, the restructuring of the Plaza América Convention Center, which will host the 2020 International Tourism Fair if it is held in October, as planned, and Josone Park, which is facing its first restoration since its foundation in 1942. According to the directors of the center, the green jewel of tourism in the area, the first stage will conclude on August 31 with the opening of restaurants, while the rest of the park will open at the end of the year.
Matanzas has been without positive cases of Covid-19 for more than 20 days, but the high number of tourists it receives from Havana, where there are still cases, forces extreme measures, according to Ailuj Casanova Barreto, provincial director of health, who highlighted the importance of controlling workers and visitors. No one with respiratory symptoms is allowed and the use of masks is mandatory when not on the beach, she notes.
The president of the Defense Council in Matanzas, Liván Izquierdo Alonso, stressed the importance of increasing vigilance in view of the start of the second phase, when foreign tourists who, to date, have only been allowed to travel to Cayo Largo, Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo, Cayo Cruz and Cayo Santa María, will be permitted to return.
There is no scheduled date for the reopening of airspace under normal conditions, although it is estimated that it may be August. International tourists can only reach the northern and southern keys of the Island on charter flights and, once they arrive, they cannot leave and move around the rest of Cuba.
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