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Hialeah bans socializing at Cuban coffee ‘ventanitas’ during coronavirus pandemic

HIALEAH, Fla. – Walk-up windows in Hialeah have been providing a sense of community for decades. There is no such thing as a quick stop for energizing Cuban coffee at a restaurant’s “ventanita.” But the coronavirus pandemic is temporarily putting a stop to the “cafecito” social there too.

Cases of COVID-19, the contagious respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus, continue to increase in Hialeah, a city of about 239,000. In response, the city’s mayor, Carlos Hernández, issued two emergency orders on Thursday banning gatherings at the “ventanitas” and ordering face masks be worn in public.

“Those windows can only be used for pickups, take-outs and for quick orders," Hernández said. “That means you cannot make an order and hang around the window.”

Hialeah is the third city in Florida with the most confirmed COVID-19 cases. As of Thursday evening, the Centers for Disease Control and Protection had confirmed 700 cases there, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The measures to reduce the impact of the pandemic in South Florida have also affected Hialeah residents financially. When it was time to pick up forms to apply for unemployment insurance benefits, thousands showed up on the first day.

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