Venezuela relaxes Covid-19 restrictions to celebrate Carnival

By Bárbara Agelvis

Caracas, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- Thousands of Venezuelans have taken to the streets in the last three days for carnival celebrations, which the government says are “safe,” provided that Covid-19 prevention measures are taken.

Nicolás Maduro’s administration relaxed confinement measures – seven days of closure followed by another seven open – until Feb. 17 so that Venezuelans can celebrate carnival with parties in parks, as well as visits to spas, cinemas, theaters and shopping centers.

The government has promoted recreational events such as dance therapy, costume contests, drawing and beach games for its citizens.

It has deployed police in several regions to monitor compliance with virus prevention measures, but the incorrect use of masks and a lack of antibacterial gel is a problem in several places where crowds of people gather.

According to residents, this is because there are people who do not believe in the existence of the virus or because they get tired of wearing masks.

Those participating in the activities have welcomed Maduro’s decision to relax lockdowns.

“Children have been very locked up lately and this activity for children is spectacular,” young mother Alexandra Guerrero told EFE while watching her daughter play in a busy park in western Caracas.

Guerrero also plans to visit a beach in the neighboring state of La Guaira in the next two days.

Nelsy Nava, a 60-year-old grandmother, said that as long as a mask is worn, “anything can be done.”

“It all depends on the mentality of the people,” Nava said, adding that she had not seen anyone without a mask.

But this opinion is not shared by Rufina Monsalve, who dressed up her four-year-old dog as a coronavirus to participate in a contest held in another park in the center of the capital.

The costume was made to promote the use of face coverings as “people don’t want to wear the mask because they don’t believe in [the virus].”

Monsalve also carried a poster with a message that read: “Don’t be another victim, wear a mask.”

The Venezuelan government assures that the celebrations are “safe” and has urged the population to comply with the rules to prevent Covid-19, however, the opposition has criticized the administration.

Former opposition deputy Omar González described holding the events as “reckless” in a country where the administration “does not equip sentinel hospitals or distribute prevention supplies, nor does it even guarantee access to drinking water to maintain the necessary hygiene levels to cut the chain of transmission of Covid-19.”

Celebrating carnival in the midst of a pandemic “is the regime’s greatest act of recklessness, which tries to continue with its policy of bread and circuses in the midst of a serious situation like the current one,” González said.

According to the latest report from the Venezuelan government, since the beginning of the epidemic in the country, 133,218 cases have been registered, of which 6,760 are still active, and 1,279 people have died. EFE-EPA


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