President Marcelo meets PM Costa to learn government’s plan for March

With a rising crescendo of voices criticising the government’s apparent reluctance for a roadmap out of lockdown, President Marcelo requested a meeting this evening with prime minister António Costa.

According to reports, he wants to “understand what the government’s plan is to manage the country during the month of March in which confinement is staying in its current form”.

As Expresso suggests “the conviction of the president is that there are strong pressures within the government, namely in the economy and education, for the country to reopen faster” (than post-Easter, as initially mooted).

The feeling followed declarations by the minister for the presidency Mariana Vieira da Silva over the weekend, when she intimated schools would be the first to reopen.

This put the president “on alert”, says Expresso.

In the decree he is sending to parliament for debate tomorrow, Marcelo “maintains the country as confined as it is now – simply altering the preamble of the text”, the paper explains.

“He wants confirmation from the prime minister that pressures that are growing by the day in various sectors of society – and within the PM’s own executive – to accelerate the opening of some commerce and schools will not lead to any precipitation of the path that has been traced” (ie the ‘formula’ driven by experts that the country MUST stay shut until numbers in hospitals have fallen much further, particularly numbers in intensive care which are still three times higher than the level seen as ‘comfortable’).

Expresso stresses that in the meetings Marcelo had earlier today with political parties he noted the “signs of displeasure” over the apparent absence of a plan of any kind of plan under formulation for the easing of lockdown measures in April.

His own take on the situation is that schools should stay closed until after Easter – but he feels citizens need signs that plans are being drawn up. “Or, as he said in his last declaration to the country, people need hope, because without hope the day-to-day of sacrifice loses all sense”.

Marcelo has made it clear that he expects a phased plan for reopening, not just of schools, but of the whole economy, says Expresso. With any luck after today’s meeting, this plan will start taking shape. 

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