HAVANA,Jan 10th The U.S. State Department has downgraded its travel advisory for Cuba, recommending Americans “reconsider travel” to the Caribbean island.
The department had previously warned citizens not to travel to Cuba due to health attacks targeting employees at the U.S. Embassy in Havana.
“As we were putting all this together, we did a very careful assessment. We talked to all of our experts, and this is where we came out on Cuba,” Bureau of Consular Affairs assistant secretary, Michele Thoren Bond, said in a teleconference via the Miami Herald.
“There is no change in our assessment of what is going on in Cuba.”
Under the new advisory system, a level 3 travel advisory urges citizens to reconsider travel while the most serious level 4 implies life-threatening risks and encourages travelers to avoid the country altogether.
Level 3 and 4 advisories will be reviewed every six months, according to Bond.
The U.S. ordered the evacuation of non-emergency U.S. government employees and their family members in September after many had begun suffering from hearing loss, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, cognitive issues, visual problems and difficulty sleeping. The State Department continues to investigate the alleged attacks. However, the employees’ departure means the U.S. Embassy in Havana is limited in its ability to help U.S. citizens.
According to Carl C. Risch, assistant secretary of the Bureau of Consular Affairs, the new system aims to further clarify the department’s recommendation and reduce confusion.
“It’s not driven by politics. It’s driven by our commitment to making sure that Americans who are traveling overseas are informed travelers and have access to up-to-date information,” Risch said during a press conference last month via the Herald.
For travelers heading to Cuba, the State Department recommends avoiding Hotel Nacional and Hotel Capri; enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP); having contingency plans in place in the event of an emergency; knowing where to seek medical treatment and consulting with a medical professional if suffering symptoms similar to those experienced by U.S. Embassy employees.