Special Report

Shutdown: The Coronavirus

Tourism workers on front line fight of Covid-19 in Puerto Rico

A sign on the door of Cueva Del Mar Restaurant in San Juan, Puerto Rico urges customers to use the hand sanitizer located at the host’s table. Photo by Shanila Kabir

With the coronavirus slashing airfares and spring breakers descending on Puerto Rico, the island that has recently survived a hurricane and earthquake, now has to worry about tourists carrying the deadly virus to the island.

And every business that deals with tourism are on the front lines of  the fight.

Fortaleza Suites in Old San Juan will not allow guests to put their belongings at the front desk. 

“We ask guests to have their IDs and wallets ready when they check in,” said Elizabeth Nolasco, 24, a receptionist at Fortaleza Suites. “We don’t let people take out their stuff and put it on the front desk while they search in their bag. If they need to open their bags, we ask them to do it outside.”

The hotel staff said they work for tourism, but they can’t sustain their business if the virus overwhelms the island. 

“This is more dangerous than the earthquake and Hurricane Maria,” said a hotel housekeeper as she scrubbed the floor on her hands and knees. 

La Fortaza Suites is a hotel in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Photo by Shanila Kabir

The Dreamcatcher Hotel in San Juan changed their hospitality services to keep their employees and guests safe. 

“We used to have a communal space with lotion and sunscreen for our guests and we will never offer these services again,” said Andrea Otero, 24, manager of the Dreamcatcher Hotel. “We have improved our health measures on everything. The housekeepers work longer hours and we restock towels and kitchen supplies more often instead of reusing them.”

According to NBC News, three out of the five confirmed cases on the island were tourists.

“The virus will make its first steps here in a hotel,” said Otero. “People who are infected interact with other guests and the locals.”

She said the host position at the hotel has been discontinued.

“Our goal right now is to limit those numbers,” she said.

Jordan Acosta, 23, the chef at the Dreamcatcher who runs their vegetarian/vegan restaurant  created a new menu to try and strengthen the guests immune system. 

“Health precautions and dietary changes are two ways our hotel is combatting this,” said Acosta. “I only prepare meals that will boost people’s immune systems. In case one of our guests has the disease, the ginger and coconut in my food will make she/he healthier faster and that can save hundreds of lives.”

The Dreamcatcher Hotel has a vegetarian/vegan restaurant. Their new menu aims to boost guests immune system during the coronavirus outbreak. Photo by Shanila Kabir

 

Restaurant workers at Cueva Del Mar are requiring customers to sanitize their hands at the host’s table before being seated. 

“We sanitize everything, if it is not molded down, we deep clean it,” said Luis Sanchez-Longo, 24, a server at Cueva Del Mar “We used to have ketchup bottles at the table and now we serve sauces in small plastic cups. Small sanitation methods will make a difference. We even wash our menus before and after they’re used.”

Uber drivers are also taking precautions. Recently Uber  suspended its pool service.  Drivers are also  limiting contact with riders. 

“I don’t help anyone with their luggage,” said Goma Alberino, 27, an Uber driver. “I disinfect my car after each stop and ask passengers to grab one of my sanitizing wipes before getting in.”

Alberino has even declined giving rides to passengers that look sick.

“The slightest cough makes me turn down rides,” said Alberino. “I can’t take the risk of driving a sick person to an area with a sensitive population. This is a responsibility of anyone working during this time.”

There are about 200,000 cases of Coronavirus globally and  close to  8,000 deaths.

There are 17 potential cases of Covid-19 on the island.

Governor Wanda Vazquez implemented a 9 to 5 curfew Sunday and a two-week shutdown of most businesses until March 30. 

“This is bigger than me and my job, said John Santana, 25, a bartender at Acapulco Mexican Restaurant. “I know many people who are still recovering from the earthquake and now they have to worry about this new disease. I can go without money for two weeks if it means I’m helping anyone who needs to be protected.” 

Puerto Rico will survive this, he said.

“There will be always be visitors here. This is paradise,” said Santana. “But we have to do what it takes to make sure we are safe living in paradise.”

 


Tags


Other Stories in Special Report: Shutdown: The Coronavirus

The Spirit of Little Haiti

Savannah Daniels October 14, 2020

Small business owners hope for future relief

Courtney Guarino October 2, 2020

Brooklyn Book Festival held virtually

Chuyan Jiang September 28, 2020

NYC Restaurant owners worry about maintaining business during winter 

Isabel Beer September 27, 2020

The pandemic is causing mental health struggles for many Latinos

Paola Michelle Ortiz September 24, 2020

Politically divided family can agree on one thing, rallies are bad during a pandemic

Michelle Diaz September 23, 2020

New Yorkers are vulnerable to mental issues due to pandemic

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 23, 2020

Healthcare professionals struggle with Trump’s decisions during pandemic

Tori Luecking September 23, 2020

Some Americans Say “Not So Fast” on Operation Warp Speed

James Pothen September 23, 2020

Trump voters unfazed by morality of Trump’s Covid response

Norah Hogan September 22, 2020

Trump rallies continue, despite the rising Covid-19 death toll

Isabel Beer September 22, 2020

Latinos weigh in on President Trump’s management of the pandemic

Paola Michelle Ortiz September 21, 2020

Fast track vaccine causes fear

Kaity Assaf September 21, 2020

It’s business as usual at McSorley’s Old Ale House

Tori Luecking September 20, 2020

Trump defiance to hold indoor rallies amidst COVID-19 sparks polarized responses 

Courtney Guarino September 20, 2020

NYC Cafes and restaurants try and survive the pandemic

Isabel Beer September 19, 2020

A typical afternoon at Shade Bar NYC

Kaity Assaf September 19, 2020

West Village staple, Caffe Reggio, remains open for outdoor dining in the wake of coronavirus restrictions 

Norah Hogan September 19, 2020

Fort Greene’s Dino adds outdoor dining to keep business flowing

Courtney Guarino September 19, 2020

COVID-19 hampers Fashion Week for photographers

Daniel Karel September 18, 2020

On the heels of revelation that Trump downplayed the covid threat, voters question rallies resuming

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 16, 2020

Overburdened mothers in Pakistan are relieved as schools reopens

Quratulain Tejani September 13, 2020

Students from different parts of the world struggle as schools reopen during a pandemic

Chuyan Jiang September 12, 2020

Special needs students face learning obstacles during Covid-19

Courtney Guarino September 12, 2020

Back to school – COVID-19 style 

Isabel Beer September 12, 2020

The new normal for school life is abnormal in Michigan

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 11, 2020

California School District Parents and Teachers Clash About Return to School

Norah Hogan September 10, 2020

A tribute to the mask pioneers

Bohao Liu July 11, 2020

Air pollution in China rebounds to pre-COVID level

Hannah Zhang July 11, 2020

ICE takes aim at international students

Maria Abreu July 10, 2020

Chinese students trapped by new ICE policy

Zishu Sherry Qin July 10, 2020

New ICE policy adds more turmoil to the lives of international students

Shiyu Xu July 10, 2020

Lawsuits follow ICE policy barring international students who are taking online classes

Joanna Lin Su July 10, 2020

Economists say the US needs a bold, generous fiscal response. Congress is likely to disappoint. 

Ahmed Mohamed July 9, 2020

Overseas Singaporeans have pandemic obstacles to voting

Yifan Yu July 9, 2020

Proximity sensors and hygiene stations are the “new normal”

Joanna Lin Su July 9, 2020

 Tour ticket vendors miss the hustle and bustle of Times Square

Narkwor Kwabla July 8, 2020

Dengue outbreak could be a greater threat than covid in Singapore

Yifan Yu July 8, 2020

Corporate bankruptcy: ‘A story that’s not going away’

Gaurav Sharma July 7, 2020

Beijing reopens as the second wave of coronavirus dies down

Hannah Zhang July 6, 2020

Masks or no masks?

Bohao Liu July 5, 2020

Varsity Flu

Madeline Gunderson July 3, 2020

Rail travel in China is popular during the pandemic and filled with safety measures

Bohao Liu July 3, 2020

Brazilian international student caught in US travel ban.

Marina Guimaraes July 3, 2020

MTA faces crisis following COVID shutdown

Daniel Girma July 2, 2020

Easter Market goes back to its roots

Kyla Milberger July 2, 2020

China’s Airline Industry Aims to Lure Back Passengers with Unlimited Flight Pass

Zishu Sherry Qin July 1, 2020

US corporate debt soars during coronavirus outbreak

Gaurav Sharma June 30, 2020

In Singapore, gay pride goes online

Yifan Yu June 29, 2020

The Hair Room reopens

Shiyu Xu June 29, 2020