There will be no cigars rolled in Honduras this week due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus COVID-19.
Update (March 23, 2020) — The government has extended the closures until at least March 29.
Over the weekend, the Honduran government issued a ban on most workplaces and all gatherings of 50 or more people. There are a variety of exceptions to the outright ban on workplaces, including ones for essential services, hospitals, banks, hotels and restaurants that offer to-go services. As for the cigar industry, there are also exemptions for the agricultural industry as well as cargo and transport services meaning that some work in the Honduran cigar industry will likely continue, but the rolling of cigars has stopped for a week.
Rocky Patel, who makes cigars in Honduras with the Plasencia family, confirmed that the factories in Honduras were shut down. Representatives for Davidoff—which makes Camacho and Baccarat in Honduras—as well as Scandinavian Tobacco Group—parent of General Cigar Co.—also confirmed their operations were shut down due to the government decree.
“This is an unprecedented situation and we have to take whatever measures are recommended by the government,” said Christian Eiroa, founder of CLE, in a statement to halfwheel. “Despite our added procedures, our government has implemented more drastic measures which we are respecting effective immediately. I worry about the medicines available in Honduras and how all (of) these workers across the country will be able to live these next few weeks without income.”
Currently, Honduras has only six confirmed cases of COVID-19, but the government is concerned over the ability of the country’s health system to deal with a widespread outbreak. Effective this morning, the country closed its borders for travelers for at least seven days. The ban on travel will not affect cargo.
Honduras is the fourth-largest producer of premium cigars in the world. The other three—Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua—are still in operation as of this morning.
Update (March 23, 2020) — The government has extended closures for another week. This story was originally published on March 16, 2020.