Havana, Sep 27 (EFE).- Whole families, groups of friends and couples have been filling restaurants and other eateries in the Cuban capital during the first days following the reopening of these spaces after a year-and-a-half of shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The massive anti-Covid vaccination campaign and the need to revive an economy severely affected by the restrictions have motivated the authorities in five provinces – Mayabeque, Cienfuegos, Ciego de Avila, Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo – as well as the special Isla de la Juventud district to relax a number of lockdown measures.
Although Covid-19 infections have not been fully brought under control, various establishments in those regions have begun to welcome customers eager to “breathe fresh air” and “get out of the house,” as Ernesto Labrada told EFE.
The young owner of the Antojos bar and coffee shop in Old Havana said that the reopening will have a “positive effect” on private businesses and it will be “spectacular” to once again welcome customers after so much time providing his services by means of home delivery.
More than 500 state-run and private eateries in the capital have begun serving customers up to 9:30 pm, with people being allowed to be out on the streets and moving around the city up until 10:30.
Those businesses must comply with the protective health measures that have been established for dining facilities, and they must prepare and handle the food correctly, maintain natural ventilation, serve only a limited number of people and set up their spaces to provide two meters (6.5 feet) of social distancing between the tables.
Reservations can be made by telephone or online, and that too stands out during this new phase of gradual reopening around the country with international tourism set to resume starting in November.
One of the areas that has opened up is the Paseo Maritimo de 1ra and 70, in Havana’s Playa district, where several restaurants and coffee shops have nice views of the ocean.
In one of those, Suset Serra told EFE that she was happy “to be able to be together again” with her friends and work colleagues, provide services and help lift the fortunes of many workers who need the earnings to support their families.
However, she expressed her concern about the overall health situation, which is still not fully under control.
Moraima Cabrera, the proprietor of the Bon Apetit restaurant, also along the Havana waterfront, called on everyone to learn to live with the virus and urged them to respect the safety measures so that “we don’t have to lock down again.”
The resumption of various services has been awaited by some and criticized by others, the latter of whom are saying that it is not yet the time to be relaxing protective measures designed to limit the spread of Covid-19.