The cholera outbreak affecting Holguin has gone way beyond the health problem and become a drag on economic activity.
The health authorities in the province have issued a set of transitional measures that restrict the manufacture and sale of food and drinks in eating establishments. The measures, designed to protect public health, are affecting public and private entities by the absence of a plan to cushion the effects on the economy.
The new regulation only authorizes the sale of canned and industrially packaged liquids. Beer and soda in bulk, for its part, will be offered exclusively in the eating establishments specifically authorized to do so and will be dispensed in unused disposable cups or glass containers.
Among the food products restricted are cold salads, appetizers with homemade mayonnaise and foods with sauces or dressings. Also suspended is the sale of raw seafood and shellfish such as oysters.
Many workers have applied for a temporary suspension of their permits to avoid paying taxes as long as they cannot sell their goods
“They closed everything, but we do not receive financial compensation from the government. Nor does the Insurance Company include a policy to protect us in these cases,” protests Maximo Tejedor Avila, a 65-year-old entrepreneur who has a stand in La Condonga, an area near the Calixto Garcia stadium. The self-employed man laments the great loses his business wlll suffer this year, with the suspension of the carnivals and the regulation of good sales.
La Candonga, with thirty outlets, is an open space for privately run food stands, open for over two decades and the most frequented by Holguin residents.
Now, uncertainty has taken over the place. Romario Céspedes Ferrer, one of the first of the self-employed who started their sales in that area, says it is the first time “they have indefinitely closed these food businesses.”
For now, the only instrument the self-employed have to remedy the situation is the application of a temporary suspension of their permits, a mechanism that would allow them to at least avoid paying taxes as long as they cannot exercise their activity. Many food workers have initiated the request, which is in process, as they still do not know what will be the resolution of authorities. Others, meanwhile, have continued selling some products in secret, with the aim of reducing their losses.
A similar situation faces self-employed people involved in food services working outside the Dagoberto Sanfield Intercity Bus Terminal in the city of Holguin. The whole city is under strict observation by a body of inspectors, who supervise volunteers workers who inspect homes and soldiers who have joined the fight against dengue fever and cholera.