March 2020

Covid-19 has reached Nicaragua. Officially Nicaragua has one case of covid-19. A 40-year-old Nicaraguan male who visited Panama tested positive for the virus. Yet there are rumors that there are at least 2 cases in the capital of the cigar industry, Esteli. According to the rumors, a Costa Rican man and his daughter have the coronavirus and are now treated in the INSS clinic before being transported to Managua.

No restrictions

The Nicaraguan government has not yet imposed any travel restrictions or quarantine measures in response to the outbreak. The authorities are mobilizing health professionals and volunteer brigades to provide preventive education and medical attention for the public. But even last week, the reigning party FSLN, held a parade in their honor. That parade drew a big crowd.

Factories in Honduras faced a mandatory shut-down for a week. In the Dominican Republic, some factories closed the doors out of their free will. Other factories are operating under limited capacity. In Nicaragua, it’s still business as usual. But factory owners are holding their breath.

Jas Sum Kral

The first factory to take drastic measures in the war against Covid-19 in Tabacalera Aragon. That’s the factory where Jas Sum Kral cigars are made. The factory will be closed for a month. 

In a conversation with us, Jas Sum Kral’s Riste Ristevski said “We decided to close for one month this morning. With the minor news releases in China over the Covid-19 virus, talking with contacts I developed by going to Inter Tobac over the years I was told they will be shutting down. We started importing the core line and what we could of Nuggs in mid-February and 2 weeks after that to have a good 2-3 month supply stateside based sales. I was told this morning that there are 2 cases of coronavirus in Esteli (**). So we are closed for a min of one month. We feel the safety and the option to self-quarantine for the workers. We will do to supply what we can to help out each employee.”

Ministry of Cigars - Covid-19 has reached Nicaragua
Roniel Aragon of Tabacalera Aragon

Nica Sueno

Skip Martin from RoMa Craft said on Facebook that it’s most likely that the Nica Sueno will be closed temporarily as well. But only if there is sufficient reason, such as feeling or learning that someone has come in contact with an infected person. Martin did also say that he will keep paying his employees. “we told everyone that we would keep paying them through this as we always have. Most factories won’t, which is unfortunate. About seven years ago we were out of Esteli Ligero and couldn’t find anywhere. We paid people to paint and clean and do odd jobs for six weeks until we found some. Our people simply do not have the resources to absorb a week off of work without pay, much less a month.”

** The 2 cases that Ristevski mentions are unconfirmed rumors.

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