São Paulo governor unveils plan for gradual reopening

são paulo quarantine

São Paulo Governor João Doria announced his plans for the gradual reopening of economic activities from May 11. The state has been in quarantine since March 21, as a measure to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr. Doria says the loosening of quarantine will be based on scientific data alone, without any political interference — in a veiled dig at President Jair Bolsonaro, who the São Paulo Governor seeks to succeed in Brazil’s 2022 presidential election.

The governor detailed that 74 percent of the state’s economic activity has remained intact, even during the quarantine. Upon announcing isolation measures back in March, Mr. Doria excluded a series of “essential” sectors, such as industry, agribusiness, construction, telecoms, and energy.

However, this figure of 74 percent can also be explained by the relatively low adherence to social isolation rules. State government data shows that only 57 percent of the population respected restrictions on movement and businesses, while the expectation was to reach 70 percent.

Mr. Doria said that the gradual reopening of the state would have specific criteria for each region of São Paulo, taking the availability of hospital beds into account. As of April 21, 1,284 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized in intensive care units in the state, and another 1,341 in regular wards.

The economic side of the plan will be led by Finance Secretary Henrique Meirelles, along with the collaboration of economists Pérsio Arida, Eduardo Haddad, and Ana Carla Abrão. “It is no use opening stores when there is not anyone to buy and consume, while putting employees at risk. We have established a consistent, solid, and science-based project. We will gradually define the protocols for this responsible and safe return to economic normality, while protecting lives at the same time,” said Mr. Doria.