by Yosley Carrero
Like many Cubans, Elba Rosa Rodriguez, 61, earns income from tourism, which has dried up amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
But she had no doubt that right now containing the spread of the novel coronavirus has to be the top concern.
“We should not exchange health for money,” said Rodriguez, who has for the past nearly four years rented out her two-bedroom apartment in the capital Havana’s Vedado district to visitors.
Since Cuba’s first cases of COVID-19 were detected two weeks ago, authorities moved swiftly to prevent a widespread epidemic, announcing a halt to incoming tourism, and a mandatory quarantine for returning nationals or resident foreigners.
“These measures affect my family economically because tourists are already not allowed to enter Cuba. But my first priority now is staying safe,” she said.
So far, 57 people on the island have been confirmed to have the virus, including foreigners.
Yovany Alvarez, a waiter at Havana’s landmark La Bodeguita del Medio bar and restaurant, a standard stop on the tourist trail, noted day-to-day life has changed dramatically.
“This place is an icon of the island’s tourism industry, yet no one is coming now,” said Alvarez.
Instead of catering to visitors, the restaurant is now “offering Cubans food delivery service to protect people from exposure to physical proximity,” he said.
“We are all responsible for the safety of our relatives at home,” he added.
Most Cubans remain in self-isolation at home, leaving only to go to work or buy food. National transportation by bus, train and airplane was suspended starting Wednesday.
Schools and universities have also been closed until April 20. Damaris Armenteros, a 33-year-old Cuban mother, supports the decision.
“My son is in high school. I feel home is the safest place for him. The government is moving on the right track,” Armenteros said. Enditem