Posted on: June 5, 2020
Many of the world’s handmade cigar factories were forced to shut down during the height of the Coronavirus pandemic. Today, most have reopened their doors, and cigars are once again flowing into distribution channels. The factories aren’t the same as they were before, however, and many have instituted changes to keep their workers safe as the virus continues to be felt around the globe, having claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. To find out what’s going on around the cigar-producing world, we spoke to a host of cigarmakers, covering factories from Santiago to Estelí, from Havana to Miami.
After roughly two months of closure, Arturo Fuente—one of the world’s largest makers of handmade cigars—resumed production on May 11. “Everybody’s wearing masks, everybody is far from each other,” said Ciro Cascella, chief executive officer of Fuente. “When they come in, we take the temperature. When they go out, we take the temperature.”
Carlos Fuente Jr., who owns and runs Fuente, has been expanding all of his operations for the past few years. That expansion means the company has plenty of presently unused space, allowing the cigar company to spread out its workforce and put empty rows between workers who would typically sit close together.
Tabacalera de Garcia
Tabacalera de Garcia Ltd., one of the world’s largest cigar factories, was shut down from March 20 to April 6. “We started on a small scale when we reopened,” said Rafael Nodal, head of product capability for Tabacalera USA. He said the company has been ramping up production gradually since that time, but it’s still not operating at full capacity. “We have a phased plan to get back to our original capacity following the local protocol and requirements,” said Nodal.
The factory, which is located in La Romana, near the southeastern end of the Dominican Republic, is operating with new measures aimed at keeping workers safe, including distancing, additional cleaning and personal protective equipment. “Therefore the general appearance and procedures in the factory have changed,” said Nodal, “and are now part of our current business as usual.”