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The Euros, the Pandemic and the Urgent Need for Normality

La eurocopa es señal de la normalidad que vuelve. Imagen: EFE/EPA/Martin Meissner

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The European football championships are a breath of fresh air. After a year and a half of disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many things we would have considered normal have become privileges and wonders. Some as simple as watching soccer with an audience in the stadiums, after such a long time of empty stands and dreary matches where silence was interrupted only by shouts from the benches.

In these circumstances, seeing the joy of the fans again is much more than a pleasant backdrop. It’s a reminder that there is life beyond our screens, our mouth covers and our next Uber Eats order.

Yes, it’s true that the pandemic continues. That the risk has not gone away and that in some regions of the world the situation remains serious enough to warrant more drastic measures. However, it is also true that the risk will never go away and that if we wait until COVID-19 is no longer a danger before returning to the streets and back to work, then we will be locked in for the rest of our lives. Which implies a whole other set of risks in and of themselves.

The need for normalcy

We need to return to everyday life and maintain a condition as close to normal as possible. The confinement mentality is unsustainable, not only for economic reasons, but above all for social and human ones.

It’s economically relevant because America and the rest of the countries would not put up with another confinement like the one in 2020. Even the great powers, which were able to back their populations with ample economic support, are facing the consequences in the form of inflationary pressures not seen in decades. Let’s put it this plainly: there is not enough money to keep all the people locked up in their homes.

The mix of confinement and support also generates profound social damage. It generates distortions in the labor market and drastically widens the gaps between economic sectors, condemning large blocks of products and services to extinction, while others consolidate an artificial dominance and a prosperity that they have not conquered in the market, but was decreed to them from the lists of essential activities determined by governments.

At the human level, the paranoia and confinement that have accompanied the pandemic are having serious effects on the physical and mental health of millions of people who are becoming even more isolated from the rest of their families, co-workers and communities, deepening the crisis of loneliness that was already serious in America and throughout the West before the first case of COVID-19

Reasonable precautions to return to normality. The Euros is a hope for that. (Image: EFE)

Reasonable precautions

Yes, it is true that COVID-19 continues to kill thousands of people every day, but we cannot stay cooped up for the rest of our lives waiting for the pandemic to go away, because it is not going to go away.

COVID-19 will continue to kill for decades, like influenza kills, like cancer kills, like so many other diseases kill; and yet we have to go out there and take our chances. We cannot condemn ourselves to life imprisonment under five masks, nor can we escape from any activity that involves a risk of getting sick. It is not only unhealthy, it is not even possible, and therefore the right path is that of reasonable precautions.

What does this entail?

If you have a history of previous illness or other risk factors that make you more susceptible to COVIDd-19, take a more defensive stance. Prioritize vaccination, but do not impose eternal confinement on others.

Those of us who have the option of a vaccine should take it seriously, and once vaccinated resume our previous activities as much as possible.

In general, and as far as possible, we should ventilate spaces and monitor those symptoms that may trigger an alarm signal, going immediately to receive medical attention, instead of waiting until we are short of breath and have to go straight to the emergency room.

COVID-19 is not a gripecinha (Portuguese for “little flu”) as Bolsonaro said; it is a more serious disease and should be prevented and treated with the corresponding care, but nothing more than that.

The hope for the European Championship

The stadiums with public in the Euro Cup, as in sporting events in much of America, are a reason for hope to recover normality, to overcome the paralysis of fear and maintain reasonable precautions, instead of betting that we will “defeat” COVID hiding at home, subjected to a confinement that weakens countries, destroys economies and harms millions of people.

It’s as simple as that

Gerardo Garibay Camarena, is a doctor of law, writer and political analyst with experience in the public and private sectors. His new book is "How to Play Chess Without Craps: A Guide to Reading Politics and Understanding Politicians" // Gerardo Garibay Camarena es doctor en derecho, escritor y analista político con experiencia en el sector público y privado. Su nuevo libro es “Cómo jugar al ajedrez Sin dados: Una guía para leer la política y entender a los políticos”

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