A year after the pandemic struck, while our relatives and friends abroad inform us that they will soon be vaccinated, Chișinău authorities are issuing meaningless decisions that only increase the effect of the pandemic.
Many of us gave up hopes and expectations that the authorities will intervene at a national level because of the fierce political struggle, but in Chișinău, there is stability and everything could have been done differently.
Other cities around the world reorganized public services from the start of the pandemic: they built additional bike paths, organized and supported volunteer networks to help the vulnerable, suspended utility or rent payments, offered help to small and medium-sized businesses, took care of the homeless, reorganized public spaces, and many more. But most importantly, they tested the population massively, identified contacts of the infected, and isolated them to control outbreaks of infection. Not all states did well, of course; however, they proved that the pandemic is a priority.
When we signed petitions requesting mass testing or mask-wearing in public spaces, Chișinău authorities shrugged and said they complied with national decisions.
In the summer of 2020, they seemed to have forgotten about the pandemic in Chișinău and turned the city into a construction site. There were much work, field visits, and projects. Even the Green Line, open to help vulnerable groups of the population, remained the volunteers’ responsibility, and the authorities no longer supported it. In autumn, when the number of infected people began to grow, the authorities seemed to take the pandemic seriously again. However, this did not prevent them from organizing big celebrations. In addition, they prioritized the projects started “at the initiative of the president” rather than support the citizens of Chișinău.
Today, we are breaking records for the number of new COVID-19 cases, deaths, and inaction. We continuously hear the sirens wailing on the streets of Chișinău and see the rows of ambulances at the triage centers. Meanwhile, the authorities decided to let the malls work the weekend on the eve of March 8, so that people can crowd in there. Public transport continued to be overcrowded, while police officers stopped people in empty parks and intimidated them with fines big fines.
The City Hall informs us about new beds in hospitals but does not explain where they will find new medical workers. At the same time, citizens are urged on social networks “to respect the protection measures against coronavirus”, ie distance, mask, and clean hands. They let the citizens travel in crowded public transport and wander around bars and malls. Of course, it is difficult to talk about the closure of so many institutions unless the authorities provide support during this period. The citizens are confused by fake news about the virus, by political strife, frustrated that nobody hears their appeals while living in fear of “who will be the next kin infected with COVID-19.”
A year after the pandemic started, the Chișinău authorities can still take another path to intervene quickly to control the infection outbreaks, to help the vulnerable, and to finally begin the massive testing of the population, as so many local authorities around the world do. They can no longer rely on the fact that the citizens will forget and forgive this crisis.