Optimism and pandemic broths
This beginning of the year is marked by optimism.
Perhaps even in a contradictory way, at a time when Covid-19 is sweeping the city, from top to bottom, spreading fever and body aches.
The truth is that it is precisely this condition, pandemic, that supports the smile that tears the horizon. Because despite the dangers to the health of the weakest – which exist and are serious – the breakdown of health systems, and the economic constraints caused by the momentary inability to work… the open city is celebrated, which gains a high degree of immunity, and finally looks forward without fear that the sky will fall on its head.
The impact of the opening, sudden and badly managed – if there was any management at all – deserves serious reflection for future memory. It was all too obvious that after three years of bubbling and isolation, the virus would quickly and ferociously enter everyone’s lives.
In fact, common sense in Macau knows today that the official numbers do not reflect the real speed of the contagion. It is hard enough to find someone who has not had or is not caring for someone who has eventually fallen ill.
And as much as one can understand – and applaud – the rush to open, given the social, economic and political drama caused by the zero-case policy, one can no longer understand the chaos into which the Health Services have been plunged.
There was not an aspirin to be found in the city, which speaks well of the lack of planning and preparation for a political decision that, being inevitable, had to include a crisis management plan that was simply neglected.
In fact, both in Macau and in China.
This coherence Ho Iat Seng kept; always following Beijing’s baton. For better or for worse… both when he closed the city and when he opened it.
But it is precisely in this pandemic broth, still heavy, that we hear about 40,000 tourists a day, economic recovery and social freedom…
Because the borders are open, and life seems to be back to normal, even with the pandemic ahead. Or rather: everything will go back to the way it was before, after this time needed for group immunity. The hardest times are passing, says the Chief Executive. And this is where he finds his courage with reality again.
Because that’s the expectation of the moment; that’s what people want to hear. And that’s what they really need to happen. What is actually going to happen, that is another discussion, which has to be recovered. In new ways, in light of the new context and new realities. It is known that the economy will not recover its breath from one day to the next; just as it is known that the casino economy will never recover its former strength.
And it is also obvious that economic diversification, announced decades ago, has not yet arrived. The problems are exactly the same as before the pandemic; but the solutions are even worse. Because being the same, dragged out without magic, they are now later. Being also even more vicious the unrealism with which they are said.
There is, however, the good news: life as it is – and not as it was in three years of suspension. That is the main engine that generates power in Macau today. And that is what we have to fly on. January deserves that optimism – and the people need it.
The Macao SAR, that is, needs much more than that. But it expects, above all, that tourism will return and gaming will recover.
In truth, even optimism sounds like more of the same.
*General Director of PLATAFORMA