Havana’s International Airport opens to commercial passengers after 8 months

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HAVANA (WFLA) – Havana’s International Airport welcomed back its first commercial passengers in almost eight months over the weekend, returning to a “new normal” that the government hopes will revive the island’s ailing economy.

A Copa Airlines flight from Panama touched down Sunday to applause and fanfare, bringing 20 Cuban passengers from Panama, the first of many flights scheduled in the coming week.

Cuban authorities say if all goes well, they hope the airport will resume its busy pre-pandemic schedule with dozens of flights and thousands of passengers per week.

Passengers submitted to a COVID-19 test upon arrival, then must self-quarantine for five days and take an additional test before being completely cleared to undertake normal public activities.

Airports on the rest of the island were re-opened in September, leaving the Havana International facility the last to start operations, an important step forward for a return to normalcy.

Health authorities say the protocols established for arriving passengers should be rigorous enough to stem potential spikes in infection rates on the island, which has seen more than 7,590 cases with 131 deaths since the pandemic broke out last March.

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