Feature: Tech repair shops in Cuba see spike in customers amid COVID-19 pandemic

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by Yosley Carrero

HAVANA, March 28 (Xinhua) — Wearing a face mask, Yamila Perez, a 46-year-old nurse living in Havana’s Vedado district, waits in line outside a tech repair shop, hoping to get her cracked mobile screen fixed.

Like her, thousands of people across the country spend more time using electronic devices since the coronavirus hit the island in March 2020.

Aside from making phone calls, Perez uses her mobile to video-chat with relatives living abroad, watch video clips and download apps.

She says technology allows people to stay connected for work, study and entertainment as partial lockdown measures continue in effect.

“My mobile is like an extension of myself,” she told Xinhua. “I try to stay at home as much as possible to protect me and my family from contracting the virus amid surging daily infections.”

In the weeks that followed the detection of the first COVID-19 cases in Cuba, most tech repair stores remained shut as local authorities ordered non-essential businesses to close.

Currently, mobile and computer repair shops continue to flourish after the government adopted new measures to boost private entrepreneurship in the context of the country’s major monetary overhaul in six decades.

Liosdany Munoz, who runs a tech repair shop in Havana, said that this business model is playing a critical role during the sanitary emergency, helping people get their damaged devices fixed.

To minimize the risk of contracting the virus, he uses disinfectant solutions before and after handling customers’ tablets, laptops and mobiles.

“People come here for different reasons, but most of the time they want to replace batteries,” he said. “Now people spend more time on social media and digital platforms. We just want to help people better communicate during the COVID-19 crisis.”

In 2020, more than 4 million people in the Caribbean nation accessed the internet through mobiles, according to the country’s Ministry of Communications.

In addition, an increasing number of people on the island have continued to pay their bills via mobile applications and digital platforms to avoid in-person contacts.

Although in Cuba most electronic parts used to fix broken computers and mobile phones come from abroad, technicians strive to refurbish used components until the number of international commercial flights arriving on the island increase.

Jesus Enrique Gonzalez, a 30-year-old electronic technician from Havana, told Xinhua that thousands of people in Cuba have better dealt with stress and depression provoked by confinement thanks to technology.

“Our tech repair shop is more than a private business to make money,” he said. “It works like a bridge to connect people during the difficult moment we are going through due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” Enditem

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