Caribbean finds there’s no good answer to reopening


Patrick Oppmann (CNN) addresses the “impossible dilemma” faced by Caribbean countries, especially those most dependent of tourism.

For many islands in the Caribbean, the coronavirus presents an impossible dilemma.

Some islands have closed to visitors to protect their citizens but severed a key economic lifeline. Others have remained open to tourism and risked exposing a populace to a pandemic that has overwhelmed the capabilities of far richer countries.

While being an island nation would seem to provide a geographic advantage to preventing the spread of the coronavirus, the economies of most islands in the Caribbean rely heavily on the money that tourists bring with them when they come to vacation.

Shut it down

Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean, is a good example of what the entire region faces. It shut down to all commercial travel in late March after the first cases of the coronavirus, brought by visiting Italian tourists, were reported. Four months later, the island’s extensive public health system has flattened the curve of new cases but is still struggling to completely rid the island of the virus that so far has infected 2,555 people and taken 87 lives, according to Cuban government figures.

Usually log jammed with tourists, the streets of Old Havana are now almost deserted.

Nelson Rodríguez Tamayo, the owner of the popular restaurant El Café, has been able to reopen as restrictions in Havana eased. But as tourists used to make up 80% of his clientele, the once bustling eatery is now empty most days. “It was completely a disaster, we collapsed. We go down,” he said. “I feel like I start again the business and its really difficult, I don’t where I am going.”

Rodriguez said had laid off several of his staff and was working on creating dishes more to geared Cubans as he waits to see how many more weeks or even months until Cuba reopens. [. . .]

Some countries are already witnessing the peril of reopening too soon.

The Bahamas reopened to tourism on July 1 after a two-month lockdown, confident the islands had the spread of coronavirus under control.

Almost immediately, the number of cases in the Bahamas spiked. Many tourists came from Florida, which has had more than 430,000 coronavirus cases, a figure larger than the entire population of the Bahamas. Warning of a “grave health crisis,” Bahamian Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis in July first suspended commercial air travel with the United States and then ordered that all arriving visitors would need to go into quarantine at a government isolation facility for two weeks and then test negative for the coronavirus.

Essentially stopping all tourism will likely prove devastating for many in the Bahamas. On some islands, locals have set up food banks to help those who work in the tourism industry from keeping going hungry. [. . .]

For full article, see

[Photo above: Better days last summer on a street of Dunmore Town at Harbour Island, the Bahamas.]

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