Brazilian mayor: reopening will happen, no matter who dies

Brazilian mayor: reopening will happen, no matter who dies
Mayor Fernando Gomes, of Itabuna

Fernando Gomes, the mayor of Itabuna, a city in southern Bahia, showed that his insistence to reopen the city’s economy knows no bounds. At all. In a video posted on social media, Mr. Gomes says commerce in Itabuna will return to normal on July 9, “no matter who dies.”

His words, predictably, generated massive outrage across the country. But his office claims Mr. Gomes was “misinterpreted,” and that he was simply showing support for business owners and commerce workers, “several family men who are currently unemployed.”

Itabuna was set to authorize the reopening of stores yesterday, but the date was pushed back as the city’s intensive care units are all filled with Covid-19 patients. Per the state’s last coronavirus update, the 213,000-people municipality has confirmed 2,637 infections and 58 deaths. 

Last month, the mayor’s office tried to lift social isolation measures, but prosecutors filed a lawsuit against the move.

Bahia Governor Rui Costa, of the Workers’ Party, criticized the mayor — and used the opportunity to take a shot at President Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s staunchest defender of a quick reopening. “[Fernando Gomes] feels the pressure, with a national voice telling mayors to reopen — which inflates store owners who are afraid of bankruptcy. Under pressure, people lose their balance. I talked to him yesterday, and he said he has never experienced a situation like this,” said Mr. Costa.

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