Caribbean Finds There's No Good Answer to Reopening
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.