President Jair Bolsonaro is gambling on business owners to “lobby hard” against a lockdown in the state of São Paulo — the industrial heart of Brazil. “This is serious business. It’s war,” said the president. São Paulo Governor João Doria has been reluctant to the idea of a strict lockdown in the state, though São Paulo leads the nation in absolute numbers of confirmed cases and deaths. However, Mr. Doria has said that the move could be enacted unless social isolation rates go up dramatically. On May 13, only 43 percent of the population obeyed confinement rules — far below the target of 55 percent.
Experts say a lockdown is “inevitable.”
“One man is deciding on São Paulo’s future. He is deciding on the future of the Brazilian economy,” said Mr. Bolsonaro, in a not-so-veiled dig toward Mr. Doria, during a video-conference.
Paulo Skaf, chairman of the Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo (Fiesp), set up the meeting. He has become close to Mr. Bolsonaro, vying for his endorsement in a possible gubernatorial bid in 2022. Mr. Skaf ran for governor of São Paulo in 2010, 2014, and 2018 — never managing to reach the runoff stage.
The president’s Press Secretary Fábio Wajngarten asked business owners to put pressure on all state governors, adding that the administration supports the demands from productive sectors. “President Bolsonaro works for you,” said Mr. Wajngarten.