On Monday, President Jair Bolsonaro issued a decree expanding the number of “essential services” in Brazil, including fitness centers of all kinds, beauty salons, and barbershops. For that moment on, these businesses would be allowed to open in the whole country, despite the different types of isolation measures imposed by State Governors. “Whoever doesn’t want to work, stay at home, damn!,” Mr. Bolsonaro said after over a dozen governors claimed they would not obey the decree. As a critic of social isolation, the president said these businesses are related to health and hygiene, and that “health is life,” on the same day Covid-19 cases approached 190,000 and more than 13,000 people died from the virus.
Mr. Bolsonaro’s blunders amid the pandemic have become everyday news in Brazil. As many countries in South America already fear Brazilians bringing the virus across borders, the former captain said that “without the economy, we don’t have life.” What the president needs to understand is that without lives, we also don’t have an economy.
In Rio de Janeiro, Governor Wilson Witzel said the move was “irresponsible,” and it seemed as if Mr. Bolsonaro “is heading toward the precipice, and wants to take all of us with him.” As many governors, life comes before haircuts. Maranhão Governor Flávio Dino accused the president of “trampling” the Constitution, saying the leader is fighting “with everyone, the only one he doesn’t fight is the coronavirus.”
The government’s efforts against the pandemic are so disorganized that even Health Minister Nelson Teich was only informed about the decree during a press conference. That suggests other such measures were put in place without his input.
In summary, cases and deaths are growing fast, President Bolsonaro keeps going against science, the Health Minister is lost and state governors continue to rebel against Brasília. Well, at least the government wants people to have their hair in order.