The US has announced new restrictions for Americans traveling to Cuba. Most travel to the country will be prohibited for individual American citizens under the new regulations - which come into effect on Thursday, November 9. Most American travelers will now be required to be part of a licensed group to tour the country (except for those who have already purchased travel or accommodations). American tourists are also prohibited from lodging in state-owned hotels in Cuba or shopping or dining in stores or restaurants with connections to the Cuban government. US citizens returning from Cuba are henceforth required to maintain proof of their activities in the country.
The US also announced new commercial restrictions for dealing with Cuban companies, prohibiting American companies from conducting transactions with 180 Cuban business entities. US cruise ships and airlines will, however, reportedly still be allowed to operate in Cuba and other American companies that already signed contracts in Cuba will still be allowed to fulfill their business obligations.
These new restrictions seem to mark the end of a period of political rapprochement between the two countries that began under the tenure of US President Barack Obama in 2014; the so-called "Cuban thaw" resulted in the normalization of relations between the two countries and the easing of travel restrictions which, for the first time in over 50 years, allowed direct flights between the two countries and US cruise ships to visit Cuba.
The new travel restrictions also follow a recent US diplomatic withdrawal from Cuba. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released a statement on September 29 detailing that 21 US Embassy employees in Cuba suffered several different types of injuries related to suspected auditory attacks over the last several months, including hearing loss, dizziness, headache, cognitive issues, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping. The Cuban government has denied any responsibility.
Individuals in Cuba, or planning travel to the country, are advised to monitor the situation and confirm travel plans and visa requirements with the relevant authorities.