COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, was named a global pandemic by the World Health Organization [read more here] on March 11, 2020, and its impact on businesses large and small are being felt. As the coronavirus continues to spread, state and local governments have responded with shelter in place orders to protect citizens and contain the spread of the virus, and now the pandemic’s spread is hitting the tobacco industry.
On March 16, 2020, Honduras’ government made the decision to send public and private sector workers home. It also took other measures to limit the spread of the virus in the country, including canceling flights and suspending public transportation. The only exceptions to this shutdown were for those working in emergency services, healthcare, security, customs, national defense, migration and airports, leaving some of the cigar factories in the country with no choice but to close in response. The shutdown was put in place for at least seven days and forced several prominent factories, including those of Plasencia, Rocky Patel, Camacho, and C.L.E. to halt most of its production, with the exception of some agricultural and transport activities.
According to the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic, the country had five confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the time of publishing–four involving people who had recently traveled from Italy and one Canadian tourist. On March 20, 2020, Halfhweel reported that due to the ongoing threat posed by the coronavirus, many of the country’s cigar factories had made the decision to close down temporarily. These factories include many many of the major Dominican cigar manufacturers including Davidoff, General Cigar Dominicana, La Auora, Tabacalera A. Fuente, and Tabacalera de García. You can view the full list on Halfhweel‘s site here.
Factory owners in Nicaragua, such as Jas Sum Kral’s Riste Ristevski, are also making the hard decision to close in order to keep their workers safe. On March 20, Ristevski announced that Tabacalera Aragon, where Jas Sum Kral is produced, would be closing for 30 days.