The increasingly chaotic fight against COVID in Brazil

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Brazil is fighting its fight against the coronavirus in the greatest confusion, with a range of measures for schools, churches or restaurants contradictory, poorly explained and subject to the vagaries of judicial decisions.

• Read also: All the developments of the pandemic

On Monday morning, Marcia Matos, a resident of Rio de Janeiro, was preparing her two-year-old child for the nursery when a friend warned her that the resumption of activities had been suspended there.

A suspension decided the evening before by a judge, rendering null and void the municipal decree dating from the previous Friday which provided for the reopening of schools.

“It’s really very confusing. The nursery did not warn us until after the time when it was normally dropped off. He was very happy at the idea of ​​finding his little comrades, ”laments Ms. Matos.

If her friend had not called her, she would have known the fate of many parents who took their children to school for nothing because they had not been informed of the court ruling.

A decision finally canceled Tuesday at midday, after an appeal from the town hall, but other legal twists could still make parents lose the compass.

“Here in Rio, we are caught in the middle of a political battle between the mayor and the governor, and that adds even more confusion”, underlines Marcia Matos.

At the end of March, the mayor Eduardo Paes decreed the total closure of bars and restaurants, but the governor of the state of Rio, Claudio Castro, allowed them to remain open until 11:00 p.m.

And nationally, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro continues to criticize the restrictions, in the name of preserving jobs.

A speech against containment that goes against the recommendations of most specialists, who believe that the economic recovery will only really be possible once the health situation is under control, which is far from the case in Brazil , the second most bereaved country by the virus, with more than 333,000 dead.

” Law void ”

“Without national coordination, without a Ministry of Health which guides the response to the pandemic, there is a great legal vacuum,” José David Urbaez, of the Brasilia Center for Infectious Disease, told AFP.

“There is no clear definition for all of Brazil of what activities should be considered ‘essential’. Each city, each state, defines in its own way what can remain open or not, depending on local political and economic pressures, which is why the situation is so chaotic, ”he summarizes.

A year ago, the Supreme Court ruled that states and municipalities have the right to impose their own measures in an attempt to stem the spread of a virus President Bolsonaro called a “little flu”.

The Head of State regularly invokes this autonomy granted to local authorities to clear himself of his disorderly management of the health crisis.

But the high court made it clear in its ruling that the federal government was not exempt from its responsibilities to “take action at the national level.”

Churches open for Easter

On Saturday, the eve of Easter Sunday, a Supreme Court judge recently appointed by President Bolsonaro decided to authorize the opening of places of worship throughout Brazil despite the bans in force in many cities, at the request of ‘an association of evangelical jurists.

Another twist on Monday, when Gilmar Mendes, another magistrate of the highest court, reinstated the ban for the state of Sao Paulo.

The situation should not become clearer until Wednesday, when the Supreme Court will rule in plenary session.

“This multiplication of legal remedies is a direct consequence of the lack of national coordination, with firm and transparent decisions,” insists José David Urbáez.

And the legal battles were also invited to the heart of the great national passion, football, with a succession of contradictory judgments authorizing or not the organization of meetings within the framework of local or international competitions.

This is the case of Recopa, the South American equivalent of the European Supercup, which should finally take place on Sunday, in Brasilia. Unless the courts decide to enter the field again …