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At the end of last week, a number of cigar factories in Danlí, Honduras were preparing for an upcoming two-week closure set to take place tomorrow, July 22 as the local government looked to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, they are breathing a collective sigh of relief as the government has granted them an exemption to stay open.

Cigar manufacturers were able to gain the exemption after some factories met with the region’s department of health, and showing not only their compliance with health safety guidance but also that they have gone above and beyond what the government has laid out.

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George Rico of Gran Habano told halfwheel that as part of the exemption, the health department has requested funds for a makeshift hospital to be built in case current capacity limits are exceeded, and that some of the factories in the area have committed to donating money for supplies.

While cigar factories have gained an exemption, the health situation in the Danlí and El Paraiso regions remains fairly dire. In the directive, El Sistema Nacional de Gestión de Riesgos Regional El Paraiso, the country’s risk management system, said that health facilities in El Paraiso are currently being used to their maximum capacity by patients affected by COVID-19. It went on to say that the order was issued in part by “trusting in God that the general population will act in a responsible way to avoid a massive contagion.”

The order leaves in place much of the shutdown orders for the area, meaning that there are still restrictions as to what businesses can be open. That list includes supermarkets, pharmacies, cooperatives, hardware stores, financial institutions, authorized markets and what is referred to as the maquiladora sector, essentially a company that allows factories to be duty- and tariff-free.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.