El Salvador Suspends Scheduled Phase II of Reopening on July 7

El Salvador’s second phase of reopening in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic won’t happen on July 7, according to authorities.

Health authorities in El Salvador say the country isn’t ready to move to Phase II of its reopening plan, scheduled for Tuesday, July 7.

Sanitary conditions around El Salvador don’t meet the standard required to advance. Phase II includes opening up call centers, restaurants, and public transport.

Phase I, which got underway on June 16 opened up El Salvador from total lockdown. Delivery services, construction, and the public sector all got back to work. Before that, El Salvador was under one of the strictest lockdowns in the region.

The fear is that Phase II will increase COVID-19 infections to the point where the health system will collapse.

Health Minister Francisco Alabi said on Friday that El Salvador wasn’t ready to advance.

“Carrying out an activity that has more exposure, like the second phase of the economic reopening, would lead to an increase in confirmed cases and more complications for the health sector,” he said.

Right now, public hospitals are already saturated and close to collapse, according to Alabi.

“If the trend continues, the health system will not be able to supply the medical needs of the population,” he said.

President Nayib Bukele wants more measures to combat the rise in COVID-19 cases, but has met opposition from El Salvador’s legislature.

Taking to Twitter, Bukele has been criticizing the legislature’s lack of action. He compared El Salvador to Costa Rica, where recent opening up reversals didn’t need assembly approval.

“Pandemics are dynamic and decisions need to be make quickly,” said Bukele. “You can’t go to congress to discuss every measure. It’s only in El Salvador where this is happening.”

Despite accusations of authoritarianism, the Bukele administration still holds public support in El Salvador.

A recent survey about COVID-19 in Central America said that 74.5% of Salvadorans think El Salvador is handling the crisis well. A massive 94.6% of Salvadorans approve of how Bukele is managing the pandemic.

The survey reveals that Salvadorans support their government over COVID-19 more than any other country in Central America.

James Dyde is the editor of centralamerica.com. He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.