Several political actors — including President Jair Bolsonaro himself — have blamed quarantine measures for Brazil’s rapidly worsening economic crisis. But Patricia Ellen, São Paulo’s Economic Development Secretary, says Covid-19, and not social isolation, is the real cause of the recession. “We are not on lockdown, over 70 percent of the state’s economic activity is up and running,” Ms. Ellen told Folha de S.Paulo. “We received the results of the first analysis of vulnerable sectors that are in quarantine, such as retail, and others, such as civil construction, that were not impacted by the quarantine but by the global recession.”
Ms. Ellen also explained that the goal for the statewide “gradual and controlled” economic reopening that is set to begin on May 11 is “to save lives.”
“The reopening has to be gradual and responsible. Regionalized and sectorial,” the secretary said. “We have to do it collaboratively, with the alignment of the health, the economy, and the social spheres. We will not implement a random flexibilization.” To deal with different scenarios within the state, Ms. Ellen said municipalities will receive distinct classifications, and that will define the government’s approach. With 17,826 confirmed infections as of Friday, the state of São Paulo accounts for one-third of the country’s Covid-19 cases.