14ymedio, Havana, Natalia López Moya, Havana, 8 December 2021 — “To the Cubans for having the wrong face mask on, the full weight of the law, but foreign tourists who walk and walk through the streets without a mask are invisible,” complains Pedro, a resident of Old Havana who sees the double standards as evidence that the Cuban Government always acts at its convenience.
The resident, who lives a few yards from the Plaza de Armas, witnessed the arbitrariness of the authorities this Monday, when a group of foreigners walked without masks towards the popular site of the Capitol building and at the same time, two yards from the scene, four inspectors fined a young man at the door of his house.
“They fined a young man who was at the door of his house with his mask on his chin because he had just finished smoking 2,000 pesos,” says Pedro. “The boy even showed the inspectors the smoking cigarette at his feet that he had just thrown away and it was not enough proof: he ended up fined.”
Since the reopening of the country to tourism, on November 15, the number of foreign visitors who stroll through Cuban streets has increased. But tourists do not seem to be aware of local regulations to avoid getting sick from covid-19 and nor do the authorities remind them.
In the squares, the taxis from the airport, the waiting rooms of the air terminals and the lines in front of a restaurant, most of the tourists are seen without a mask, nor do they respect the distance of a four-and-a-half feet between people, advisable to minimize the spread of the virus.
“Now there are three ways to know who is a foreigner: by the currency with which they pay; because they are always looking up instead of watching for the holes in the sidewalks; and because they walk bare-faced on the streets,” joked a barber this Tuesday on Reina de La Habana Avenue.
“They will have hard currency and they will be vaccinated, but I do not serve anyone who enters here without a facemask,” he declared.
In establishments that provide private services, the inspectors live fining anyone who wears the mask improperly. This Tuesday, Jhony went to get a haircut at a barber shop in Centro Habana and was able to see how two young people who were waiting in line were fined for wearing the mask on their chin.
“One of the fined boys complained to the inspectors that tourists walk the streets without a mask,” says Jhony. “The reaction of one of the inspectors was drastic: ‘Oh no, what I was going to give you was a fine of 200 pesos to go easy on you, but now you’re leaving with 2,000’.”
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