Tourist cities setting up sanitary barriers to prevent outsiders from entering. This during a mega holiday in São Paulo that coincides with a sunny weekend and the thundering of summer in the country. The pandemic created surreal situations. Although it sounds contradictory, the measure makes sense when analyzing the health system of the municipalities of Baixada Santista, which have been on lockdown since Tuesday (23).
The mayor of São Vicente, Kayo Amado (We Can), says that the city has 10 ICU beds, all of them always full. He was surprised when six vacancies opened: he was informed that the cause was a discharge and five deaths. The mayor defines the situation as a “death mat” and argues that it is not the time to receive outsiders. “How can we accept tourists who come? We love tourists, but now is not the time.”
The combination of lockdown and sanitary barrier against tourism worked in Baixada Santista. The beaches of Guarujá and Santos, on the north coast of São Paulo, were deserted on Friday (26). The population lacked to collaborate. The monitoring of social isolation of the government of São Paulo shows that, last Thursday (25), day of the updated data, 41% of the inhabitants of Santos stayed at home. The rate is lower than that of Thursday of the previous week, when it closed at 42%.
In Guarujá, isolation was 46% on Thursday (25) – a single percentage point above the previous Thursday. The lockdown failed to keep the population at home, but the measures that hinder tourism were effective. The great pillar were the barriers set up at the entrance to the cities of Baixada Santista. Whoever did not provide a justification, did not take the ferry to Guarujá, nor did it pass the entrance clover of the city. The target of the measures was the residents of São Paulo, where the anticipation of a series of holidays is underway, from March 26 to April 4.
In Santos, a support tent was set up next to the Saboó cemetery, at the end of the Anchieta-Imigrantes system. The surveillance work is carried out by agents from the CET (Companhia de Engenharia de Trafic) in Santos. Yesterday (26), they asked the outside cars to touch the right lane, which is next to the central construction site. The driver was approached by a municipal guard and ordered to return to the city of origin if he had no reason to enter Santos. Military police were on standby if tourists refused to comply with the order – something that has not happened so far.
Choosing which vehicle to stop is simple, among cars with traditional license plates, but the Mercosur license plates do not indicate the city. The CET agent explained that the trick used is to see if the headlights are on, a sign that the car was on the highway.
Being with the family is a strong indication; having banks full of junk is lipstick on your underwear. The agents have expertise, but they are few. There was a pair from the CET, a pair from the Municipal Civil Guard and two soldiers from the PM. Vehicles from other cities took advantage of the carelessness of the sextet, engaged in approaches and orientations, and accelerated, causing a loss in inspection.
Bureaucracy also played against work. In Santos, the Civil Guard is not considered a transit agent. So you cannot approach cars. CET agents had to leave to resolve the situation for a flashing beacon yesterday morning. During the half hour they were gone, there was no way to stop vehicles.
In addition, this is the only barrier and Santos has two other entrances, both without a barrier. The heat also plays against. It was 30 ° C and the humidity was so high that the thermal sensation reached 34 ° C, late yesterday morning. Every half hour of service required a stop to dry a bottle of water. The break lasted a good 10 minutes.
At this point, the cap was wet with the edge and the sleeve of the shirt with sun protection factor used under the uniform changed color, because it had soaked with sweat. Worse was the feeling of useless work.
The men did the job because it was the “mission of the shift”, but they said they felt like they were wiping ice. At the gas station on the sidewalk, the mask was as ineffective as the helmet worn at the elbow. Customers and attendants kept her on the chin. The bike path that passes through the central construction site had half of the cyclists without a mask.
Drivers who presented justification for going to Santos were allowed to continue their journey. Soon, they were shaking their car as they passed the machine line, which is what city dwellers call the train tracks that cut through their streets.
But life in Santos was not the easiest. The Baixada Santista is in lockdown, and this Saturday, even the supermarkets are closed. Beach, no way. A zebra stripe stretched on the curb line, plastic fence at the end of the cycle path and metal grids before the sand prevent the advance.
Water sports equipment, such as canoes and kayaks, are inaccessible behind bars. The sand is as empty as that typical travel agency catalog photo, trying to sell a beach like wild. But Santos’ traffic does not match what is expected of a lockdown city. There were even lines in the streets that pass by the city’s canals.
In the headlights, people who have no option of staying at home held up signs. The black ink brush on the cardboard wrote that the gum candy costs R $ 1. The water seller even used the throat. But the item most offered by the sellers was dishcloth. For R $ 10, the driver could return home with half a dozen of them.
With its particularities, Guarujá presented a similar scenario. Many people go to work in bicycles in the city and, every time the traffic light turned red for cars in the late afternoon, they invaded the avenue. At the bus stop, there was no place for everyone to sit.
The beach was completely deserted and few people walked or ran along the shore. In Guarujá, inspection is carried out by military police officers who ride their bicycles. They had a lot of work, because almost nobody wore a mask. The street sweepers said otherwise. The service has never been easier.
Season is over
Autumn started last Saturday (20th). With the extension of the emergency phase, the Guarujá traders declared the time of opportunities is over. The season is over.
Fernando Barbosa da Silva, 63, owns a kiosk on the beach. He was there to wash the umbrellas, which will spoil if they are kept for a long time.
In Hawaiians, blue shorts, without a shirt and shins full of sand, he said he always makes a financial fat in the hot season to pay the taxes at the beginning of the year and leave a sum for the rest. In 2021, the R $ 11 thousand IPTU will be paid in installments and will be used to collect the money. “I’m going to count the pennies to handle it.”
Eduardo Jeronimo da Silva is the manager of a restaurant on the beach and does not hide the game. He has done so much accounting that he knows the numbers in his head. Revenue for the last six months was R $ 4 million less than the range from October 2019 to March 2020.
The restaurant has 200 tables and there was even a queue. Today, Eduardo is waiting for the vaccine. With such a brutal drop, the payroll was cut almost to zero. There were 70 employees before the pandemic, now he commands a cook, a kitchen helper on the day shift and a team of the same size at night.
“With delivery, we maintained about 10% of normal sales. At least we have some loyal customers.”
The sacrifice has been immense and it seems that it is not working. Mayor of Santos, Rogério Santos (PSDB) says that the most alarming is the number of ICU beds in the city rising from 90 to 360 and, even so, there is pressure on the health system.
“Now it is another pandemic, with the prevalence of the P1 strain. The virus is faster than our ability to open new beds, form teams, acquire inputs.”
There is nothing to suggest that the scenario will change in the short term. For the next few weeks, the only movement at sea in the cities of Baixada Santista will be for ships maneuvering to dock at the port.