Rio de Janeiro opened its restaurants, bars and gyms on Wednesday as part of an accelerated de-escalation of the measures taken to curb the coronavirus despite being the second city most affected by the pandemic in Brazil and having one of the highest death rates. in the world.
Rio de Janeiro had 6,618 deaths from COVID-19 since its first victim on March 19, as well as 57,879 cases of the disease, making it the second most affected city by the pandemic in the country after Sao Paulo.
And Brazil, with almost 61,000 victims and 1.5 million cases, is the second most affected country in the world, after the United States, and one of the new global epicenters of the pandemic.
With 6,618 coronavirus deaths and a population of 6.32 million inhabitants, Rio has a death rate from the disease of 1,047 per million inhabitants, more than three times the Brazilian average (290 deaths per million inhabitants).
If it were a country, Rio would be one of the highest death rate per inhabitant in the world, ahead of some of the most affected by the disease such as Belgium (846 per million inhabitants), United Kingdom (656), Spain (601), Italy (578), Sweden (520), France (460) and the United States (395).
The rate of Rio is close to that of the Community of Madrid (1,260 deaths per million inhabitants), but in the Spanish capital daily deaths are already counted on the fingers of one hand, while in Rio they were 68 in the last 24 hours and the curve flattened but the downward slope did not start yet.
Similarly, Rio is accelerating its de-escalation with a contagion rate of 915 per 100,000 inhabitants, one of the highest in the country, while the average case rate in Brazil is 689 per 100,000 inhabitants.
MAYOR, WITHOUT DOUBT BEFORE REOPENING
Despite admitting that he hopes there will be no relapse that will force him to go back, the city’s mayor, Marcelo Crivella, said that he feels sure of the easing since the death and contagion curve has been parked for several weeks and that there is no threat of hospital collapse.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, when I analyze the demand for beds in intensive care units, and the deaths, we see that they rose in March and April, that we had a dark peak in May, and then we fell sharply to today’s levels,” he claimed.
He added that at no time was there a hospital collapse and the intensive care units with respirators were sufficient to attend to all the patients. “We got to have 90% of the units occupied but there was never a collapse. That was the great fear at the beginning,” he said.
Crivella, who aspires to be reelected next November, admitted that the economic crisis generated by the pandemic forced him to accelerate the de-escalation. “The economy had a huge impact and we are at a gigantic level of unemployment,” he said.
THOUSAND BARS AND RESTAURANTS BROKEN
According to the Rio Bars and Restaurants Union, the closure of the sector’s establishments for 100 days caused the bankruptcy of some 1,000 businesses and left 27,500 workers who had formal contracts (a quarter of the total) unemployed.
“The forecast is that the tax collection will be reduced by around 2,000 million reais (377.4 million dollars) due to the pandemic and Rio is already coming from a tragedy that was the account that was left to us for the 2016 Olympic Games. In recent years we had to pay 6,000 million reais (about 1,132 million dollars) of past due accounts, “added Crivella.
The bars and restaurants had to adapt to meet the demands that allowed them to open the doors, such as reduced hours, just using half their service capacity, tables two meters apart and cleaning all surfaces every two hours.
But, after the million-dollar losses for 100 days with the doors closed and the investments they made to be able to reopen, the owners are not very optimistic because they know that many people from Rio de Janeiro prefer to remain confined at home. The movement this Thursday was very reduced, as Efe could verify.
“Our expectation is not one of the best, even because the city center is very empty and companies continue with only 20% of their employees working. We had a huge loss, our working capital ended, we are depending on the promised loans by the Government and we are on the verge of bankruptcy, “Rigo Duarte, owner of the traditional Angu do Gomes restaurant, told Efe.
According to the businessman, many restaurants have already closed and many others may not last until December, even operating.
“The next four months will be definitive for the survival of bars and restaurants, which I think was one of the areas that suffered the most from the pandemic,” said Sergio Baltazar, owner of “O Grato”, a pizzeria that opened in February. after several months of reform and had to close the doors in March causing a loss that its owner estimates at $ 123,000.