Cuba licensing Havana private restaurants after brief freeze

havana-live-atelier-900x600-terrazaHAVANA,Nov. 10th. (AP) — Cuba says it has begun to grant licenses to new private restaurants in Havana after a brief freeze to help authorities grapple with the rapid expansion of one of the most important openings in the state-run economy.

Isabel Hamze is the acting vice president ofHavana’s provincial government. She tells state-run media in comments published Wednesday that the freeze lasted from Sept. 15 to Oct .23. Inspectors visited restaurants to ensure compliance with health and safety codes and other regulations. She said 32 restaurants were inspected and one had its license revoked.

She said private restaurants employ some 150,000 people in Havana, making them an important source of growth, but one that needs strong regulation. She said inspectors were looking for violations ranging from prostitution to purchase of stolen goods.