Sao Paulo, Jun 1 (efe-epa).- Several cities in the Brazilian states of Sao Paulo, Ceara, Amazonas and Para – four of the regions hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis – on Monday began gradually reopening their economies, despite the fact that the pandemic is still spreading like wildfire.
Sao Paulo state, the country’s most industrialized and richest region, on Monday began a phased reopening although not in the same-named city and metro zone, where about half the state’s 46 million people live.
In absolute numbers, Sao Paulo, where a “soft” quarantine has been in place since late March, is the state that has been most affected by the pandemic with 7,615 deaths and 109,698 confirmed Covid-19 cases, according to the latest bulletin from the Health Ministry.
As of Sunday, the South American giant had registered about 30,000 deaths, currently the world’s fourth-ranked country in terms of Covid-19 deaths, and more than 500,000 confirmed cases, after only the United States.
The peak of the so-called infection curve is expected to come sometime in June or July.
However, that has not prevented Sao Paulo Gov. Joao Doria from allowing – starting on Monday – the initiation of a staggered resumption of assorted activities in some areas depending on the number of local deaths and infections, as well as the number of intensive care beds that are occupied in local hospitals, among other factors.
Sao Paulo authorities have established five reopening phases and are assessing each portion of the state on the basis of its indicators and profile.
In this way, some parts of the state’s interior have moved directly to Phase 3, during which the reopening of bars, restaurants and beauty salons is permitted.
However, the state capital has extended social distancing measures until June 15, despite the fact that is has been authorized to reopen “with restrictions” local businesses and even shopping centers.
Sao Paulo Mayor Bruno Covas said that in the coming two weeks he will achieve the health and safety protocols that he had demanded from different economic sectors to allow them to implement a “calm” reopening.
In Ceara, the third-hardest-hit Brazilian state with 3,010 deaths and almost 50,000 confirmed virus cases, more than 10 percent of the economic sectors have been allowed to resume their activities, including non-essential businesses, construction and processing industries.
Meanwhile, Amazonas state, with 2,052 deaths and 41,378 cases, which experienced a temporary collapse of its health and funeral services as a result of the pandemic, on Monday also began a phased resumption of activities.
According to the state government, the number of new virus infections has declined and thus authorities have permitted the gradual flexibilization of confinement measures with the reopening of non-essential businesses in Manaus, the state capital.
In the northern part of the country, Para state, with 2,923 deaths and 37,961 confirmed cases and one of the few to decree a total lockdown in some of its cities, on Monday also began implementing its own specific plan for a phased reopening.
Besides Sao Paulo, Ceara, Para and Amazonas, other states in southern Brazil began their own reopening processes several weeks ago, a decision that was spurred by some experts.
The “immediate” return to normality is one of the things being demanded by Brazil’s ultrarightist president, Jair Bolsonaro, one of the world leaders who has been most skeptical about the danger posed by Covid-19, which he has called just “a little flu.”