Although we are witnessing an increase in Covid in Portugal, its fourth wave in full cohesion, all attention is now focused on how to live with the virus, and relatively to its risks and walk towards a normal life as possible. This is because vaccination is progressing successfully, with the oldest already vaccinated and the youngest starting the process, it is expected that 70% of the population will be vaccinated by the end of August.
News from other countries shows a tendency to open up the economy and social life as vaccination progresses and the epidemic diminishes. The deaths are now much lower and the health services are much less active than in the first waves. All governments are now more concerned with measures to return to normal life than with measures to contain Covid.
Between us and with the growth of the fourth wave, the government is in the middle of the bridge: on the one hand it is trying to mitigate the spread of the virus, on the other hand, it is trying to keep pace with the openness and normalization of social life, in a summer whose goal was the recovery of all, businesses and citizens. It’s not an easy situation and that’s why we’ve noticed some disagreement from experts and “opinion makers”.
The recent measures taken by the government in the last month greatly reveal the hesitation and skepticism involved in the situation. Encircling the hardest-hit councils on the weekends was a measure that was much criticized, but was justified as a way to delay, not prevent, the Delta strain from spreading across the country. This would avoid a rapid concentration of new cases in a few days, which would expect the epidemic to develop for more weeks, but with a lower daily occurrence. The conclusion that the virus had already spread throughout the national territory made that measure fall within two weeks, but it remains to be seen whether the initial idea makes sense.
Closing restaurants on weekends, in municipalities with a higher incidence of infection, has also been a poor measure by business and customers, arguing that the risks of infection on weekends will be exactly the same as those recorded during the week. The government has tried, again, to find a middle ground here, by providing restaurants with some activity during the week, recognizing that these meals will be more professional in nature, with fewer delays and fewer people, and weekend meals with a more familiar flair. , pleasant and takes longer. This effort to accommodate three important values (normal life, economy and protection of people) does not always show coherence and can become a caricature in certain circumstances.
Last week, the requirement to obtain a vaccination certificate or a test to prove the absence of the virus, the government believed, created a new stir with the most creative argument: inequality towards those who do not have the money to pay for a test, as if access to a restaurant is within range constitutional principles of justice; the inability of restaurants to take responsibility for controlling self-exams in person, an issue whose convenience would not be entirely irrational; Why this reservation of access is required only on weekends and not during the remaining days, which the government has already made clear, with some reasoning, as seen above; Also, the issue of allowing access to restaurants only to people who have tested positive for virus would doom other citizens to not be able to enter the restaurants. Well, it is precisely this distinction that makes it possible to keep positive issues at home, without being able to go out, and this deprivation of liberty is not unconstitutional.
Some governments are now adopting more reckless measures to open up the economy and social life: Singapore has outlined a pro-opening strategy, while maintaining some precautionary measures, but creating conditions for a full resumption of normal life, in schools, shops, leisure and culture, in hotels and productive activities, in tourism. The UK is also moving in the same direction, with complete freedom of movement for people without masks and with all activities planned since the 19th century. It is not currently possible to predict the consequences of these measures, including at the international level and even their repercussions in Portugal. We are convinced that the Portuguese government, which has always been very cautious, will not adopt this model of openness any time soon. But these initiatives should be viewed with particular interest because challenges will arise very quickly, in a globalized and highly competitive world and with summer upon us.
The texts in this section reflect the personal opinion of the authors. They do not represent the vision nor do they reflect its editorial position.