Sleepwalking Through Covid-19: Time To Wake Up Civil Liberty

Author image

Luiz F. Costa Macambira   CEO

Sleepwalking Through Covid-19: Time To Wake Up Civil Liberty

Luiz F Costa Macambira and Serge Telle.

On March 17 in Monaco, we were suddenly forced to accept restrictions of basic freedoms. Previously unimaginable, the liberty of leaving the house, going to a café or running a business was quashed as the worst public health emergency in a century shutdown the global economy one country at a time.

Despite being home to the world’s most expensive property market where, according to the 2020 Knight Frank Report, $1 million buys you 16 square meters and more than half of our population is made up of millionaires (up only 1% from 2018), the Principality was not exempt from house-arrest-style measures, part of a domino affect across the continents.

While few would dispute that hundreds of thousands of people dying worldwide from a disease with no known vaccine or treatment is tragic, Nancy Gertner, a senior lecturer at Harvard Law School and a retired federal judge, put it best when she said: “The issue is whether the measures are proportionate with the purpose.”

On March 17 in Monaco, we were suddenly forced to accept restrictions of basic freedoms. Previously unimaginable, the liberty of leaving the house, going to a café or running a business was quashed as the worst public health emergency in a century shutdown the global economy one country at a time.

An attack on our civil liberties raises alarm bells. What if there is no vaccine until 2022? What if, more and more, social distancing is frowned upon until compliance is no longer voluntary? What if governments keep extending emergency decrees to expand their own political agendas?

Confinement in Monaco was at least civilized (despite the absence of live - in help), a collective responsibility of the 140 nationalities that make up our population. As a result, our quarantine ended earlier than our neighbors and our infection rate was one of the lowest in the world: of the 43% of the population who volunteered for free serological testing, 2.7% were positive.

The government navigated a fine line between the comfort level of its residents and the austerity measures required by the situation. The state injected €75 million a month (a third in aid to companies, and the rest to finance total temporary layoff coverage, plus an additional €50 million a month through loans from state-supported banking institutions.

There have been critics along the way but governing a crisis in times of chaos and uncertainty takes resolve, efficiency and diplomacy. Under the leadership of Prince Albert and minister of state Serge Telle (both of whom were infected by Covid-19), the state took relatively quick action to prevent a larger scale contagion and further economic upheaval.

As I bid farewell to my friend Serge Telle, who is leaving us on August 31, we offer un grand merci, from a social distance, of course.

 

Author image

Luiz F. Costa Macambira   CEO

Luiz is the Publisher and CEO of the Forbes Monaco magazine and website. Launched in November 2018, Forbes Monaco is part of the Forbes family, with its 7 million readers and 71 million monthly website visitors worldwide.