Venezuela’s lockdown restrictions to end today

The strict lockdown imposed by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on March 21 will end today. Citing a “second wave” of

Venezuela lockdown

Photo: MIGUEL GUTIERREZ / EPA

The strict lockdown imposed by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on March 21 will end today.

Citing a “second wave” of COVID-19 cases, Maduro imposed measures that limited all activity besides those essential for health or food. The surge of a Brazilian variant of the COVID-19 virus and a “flexibilisation” of strict bio-safety measures has left the country particularly vulnerable to a resurgence in cases. The most recent lockdown has set back plans for a return of face-to-face classes for schools and other “return to normalcy” policies planned by the leadership.

During the second wave of the virus, Maduro prioritised sourcing vaccines from international allies over expedience. Last week, Maduro killed an agreement allowing the World Health Organization (WHO) to supply vaccines to Venezuela, claiming concerns over the safety of the AstraZeneca-produced jab. As AstraZeneca is a British-Swedish multinational, Maduro’s highly contentious relationship with US-aligned parties may have proven decisive.

Chinese or Russian jabs would probably be acceptable to Maduro’s administration, but stalling needed vaccinations will ultimately delay Venezuela’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Venezuelan people, already wracked by an economic, political and humanitarian crisis, will strongly oppose Maduro’s decision on the WHO agreement and likely take to the streets despite the risk of infection.

Wake up smarter with an assessment of the stories that will make headlines in the next 24 hours. Download The Daily Brief.