Latin America starts reopening economies despite soaring Covid cases

Bogota – Several Latin American countries were on Monday reactivating their economies despite Covid-19 cases continuing to rise.

Mexico's touristic Quintana Roo region was preparing to start receiving visitors again, while Colombia was relaunching new economic sectors and two Brazilian states relaxed restrictions.

Brazil has confirmed more than half a million novel coronavirus infections, the most in the world after the United States.

Mexico is also among the countries with the most cases in Latin America, with 90,664 infections, while Colombia comes sixth with 29,383 cases.
However, there is concern about lockdowns hitting the region's fragile economies too hard, with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro saying that the economic slowdown could eventually kill more people than the pandemic itself.
Mexico on Monday continued to gradually reactivate its economy after two months of a large-scale standstill.
"It is a very special day to start the process of normalization in Mexico's public life," President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said near Cancun, in Quintana Roo state, at the start of his first official tour of the country since late March.
The government had already increased the number of sectors considered essential that are allowed to operate, such as construction, the car industry and mining.
New economic sectors may reopen from Monday depending on the health situation in each region.
Lopez Obrador stressed the need to relaunch tourism in Quintana Roo, the most popular region among tourists. Hotels and beaches in the state will start receiving visitors from June 8.
In Colombia, President Ivan Duque has extended a nationwide quarantine until the end of June, but also allowed the reopening of more economic sectors from Monday, including shopping centres, hairdressing salons, museums and libraries.
The pace of the relaunch will depend on the local authorities. In the city of Medellin, for instance, shopping centres were reopening.
But in the capital, Bogota, which has recorded about 10,000 novel coronavirus cases, Mayor Claudia Lopez has not allowed more parts of the economy to reopen. The most infected parts of the city have been placed under an even stricter quarantine.
In Brazil, where Bolsonaro has criticized restrictions, the state of Sao Paulo allowed some new activities - including beauty salons and even restaurants - in some areas on condition that the local authorities give the green light.
Economic activity in the capital, Sao Paulo, remained at a standstill, local media reported.
In the Brazilian state of Ceara, civil construction was among the sectors that were allowed to reopen. The state of Rio de Janeiro was also discussing how to gradually reactivate its economy.


Monday, June 1st 2020

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