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Yes, we blew it!

As the number of new Covid-19 cases is on a steep rise, we can safely paraphrase the slogans used by the current and the former US presidents respectively on their campaign trails: "Let's make pandemic great again" and "Yes, we blew it!"
We have widely reopened the gates for the Covid-19 pandemic, hypocritically pretending that "we are restarting the economy". No, sir, we are not restarting the economy, we are starting the holidays!
We had no problem working from home for almost four months, but vacationing at home is a nonsense, isn't it? We had no problem dressing up for an online meeting (while still wearing the pajama bottoms under the table), but who would put on the swimming suit, lay down the bathing towel in the living room, light up the atmosphere with a colored bulb and jump into the bathroom tub pretending to be on a beach in sunny Greece? You ought to be there, no matter the consequences! 
As the lockdown measures were slightly lifted, cohorts of people took to the Black Sea beaches while others invaded the resorts on the Prahova Valley, letting their worries, fears and concerns at home. And you do not sit stuck in traffic for hours between Nistoresti and Comarnic for nothing, just to "keep the distance" - do you?  On the contrary, you go there to let your hair down... and the face mask in the process.  Where is the damn virus, huh?
Amid this craving for good-time, for fun and distraction, the desire to find a convenient excuse for breaching each and every legal requirement as well as any common-sense epidemiological rule, was way too powerful for many. So many were just happy to listen to any conspiracy theory - one more idiotic than another - that might offer the slimmest excuse for such a socially irresponsible behavior. Why do we party? Because there is no reason not to: "the virus does not exist".  Any moral guilt for not abiding by the rules has miraculously vanished: long live the convenient lie!
It has been said time and time again: the one that doesn't learn the lessons of history is bound to repeat the mistakes. Mind you, it is not the history that makes mistakes, it's the people who make the (bad) decisions. History only writes it down. During the Spanish flu, one century ago almost to the day, people around the world questioned the quarantine and lockdown measures imposed on them by the authorities. After just a few months in which many complained and sometimes even revolted against the measures, the authorities bowed down and eased the quarantine. People rejoiced, flocked to the beaches, clubs and fairs and what followed was the tsunami pandemic that caused the death of 200 million people worldwide. The old photographs with people wearing masks (I saw one in which even the house cat wore a mask!) are from the second pandemic wave, when it was no longer "degrading" to wear it. Does it sound familiar?
Furthermore, according to press reports of the time, during the 1924 cholera outbreak, Romanian peasants gave chase to doctors and soldiers looking for infected people and refused to let them go to hospital for treatment, arguing that the medics would "carry on experiments and do the work of the devil" on the sufferers. When was last time that you heard/read such an argument? Not a century, but a day ago!
The truth of the matter is that we believe what we have been educated to believe, and we are receptive to information that confirms - rather than challenges - our own set of values and certainties. Some posts on social media today are no different from what the 1920 negationists were arguing during their pandemic, a century ago. The difference is that social media has elevated the lack of knowledge and imposture to new heights, and the internet gave a global voice to individuals that otherwise would have been left by history in the obscurity of their own neighborhood. "Freedom of speech" rules supreme over the "wisdom of speech" and this is not the first time in history when it happens... or the last time when it will happen.
What was indeed different a century ago was that traveling for pleasure and holidaying were the privileges of the few ."Hospitality" was just a human gesture and a sign of kindness, not a global industry catering for the universal human right of holidaying.
So far, we have put the later before the right to health and care and we will probably count the epidemic costs sometime end of September. Let's pray that come that time there are enough doctors to treat the sick and enough resources to relaunch the real economy not just the industry of fun.

This is also available in our print edition of Business Arena.

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