The district of Milho Verde, in the municipality of Serro, in Alto Jequitinhonha, has always been a place marked by tranquility, the reason to attract many visitors, who also take the opportunity to enjoy the natural charms of the surroundings. But now, the place has practically stopped. From quiet to the desert, the inns are empty.
Access to Milho Verde (24 kilometers from the urban headquarters) was interrupted as a preventive measure against the transmission of the coronavirus.
The isolation was carried out by the Municipality of Serro and had the support of the approximately 1,600 “native” residents of the village, who were apprehensive about the possibility of the arrival of COVID-19 through tourists.
Access to the So Gonalo district of Rio das Pedras, located on the same path as Milho Verde, was also prohibited. In another locality, Capivari, fearing the spread of the coronavirus, the community locked the access gate with a padlock. Only residents of the camp, located near the Itamb peak, pass through it, an area much sought after by tourists.
Also as a preventive measure against the virus that causes respiratory disease, visits to waterfalls and areas of environmental protection in the region were suspended by the State Forestry Institute (IEF).
Milho Verde bucolic place, where the residents have the habit of talking at the door of the house in the streets, most of the land. But in the face of social isolation to prevent the coronavirus pandemic, this old habit was also abolished. At the beginning of this week, a sound car circulated in the locality asking the natives to stay inside their homes.
In the last few days, movement of people – still reduced – has occurred only in the three grocery stores in the village, even so, following hygiene rules.
The isolation caused great losses for the owners of inns, who had to cancel the reservations for Holy Week and for the following holidays – from Tiradentes (April 21) and May 1 (Labor Day). Even though they suffer losses, they claim that they agree with the isolation to remove the risk of contamination from COVID-19.
“I have no idea of my damage, but I know it will be very big,” says Maria dos Anjos, owner of an inn in Milho Verde that bears the same name as the district. She said she had already received several bookings from couples and tour groups for the next two months’ vacation. “But I had to cancel everything and I don’t know when I’m going to make reservations again,” said Maria dos Anjos, revealing that she received her last guest two weeks ago, before the “whereabouts of the coronavirus”.
The owner of Pousada Milho Verde said that, even with the loss, she agrees with the ban on the arrival of tourists as a precaution against COVID-19. “I agree (with the measure), because the fewer people who circulate here, the more security for local people and the less risk of the disease spreading.”
“Money in everything,” added Maria dos Anjos, whose inn has 45 beds and charges R $ 160 per couple, including coffee and half-board. “With faith in God, we will win this battle”, prev.
Susan Chiode Perptuo, owner of the Luar do Rosrio inn, also in Milho Verde, also regrets the losses and says she knows that she runs the risk of not supporting the losses. However, it supports preventive measures.
“The damage is very large. Green Corn has no other source of income other than tourism. In my case, I know I run the risk of breaking. But if it breaks, then we get a loan and recover six or eight months from now. If you die, fate is the cemetery, ”compares Susan.
“The quarantine is bad for business. But, worldwide, the alternative found to contain the coronavirus ”, observes the company. Her inn has 33 beds, and the daily rate per couple ranges from R $ 200 to R $ 240, including breakfast.
The merchant Srgio Luiz Guimaraes Nepomuceno, owner of one of the few and best known restaurants in the district, Angu Duro, said that, “by his own conscience” he closed the establishment more than a week ago and that he does not know when he will reopen it.
He said that the isolation of Milho Verde and the withdrawal of tourists now weighed even more on the local economy, because the owners of inns and traders in the village were hoping for better sales in Holy Week and on the holidays in Tiradentes and the 1st of May .
“After the low season, during the holiday season and in that period now that we can pay the bills. Now, we are completely lost ”, says Srgio Nepomuceno. He also said that he fears that, because of the pandemic, 2020 will become “a lost year”.
In the So Gonalo district of Rio das Pedras, eight kilometers from Milho Verde, also in the municipality of Serro, in addition to isolation as a preventive measure against the advance of the pandemic, the population is being forced to comply with the curfew. The inns and local shops were closed, with the exception of a few establishments, such as restaurants, which can serve only in the delivery system.
A resident of the district, the sanitary and veterinarian Cleide Greco complained about the measures, which, according to her, were exaggerated, contributed to generate panic among the residents and created a bad climate in So Gonalo do Rio das Pedras. “A WhatsApp group was created that, in contrast to providing services, serves to gossip and people to watch the lives of others,” he said.
On the other hand, the resident considers the barriers and the closure of the city to be relevant, since the poor population, and the majority, are elderly.
Also according to her, the local health post was left without medical care, as the unit’s physician interrupted the work because she was over 60 years old. Only the nurse attends the post. (collaborated with Elian Guimares)
The inhabitants of the village of Capiravari, in the municipality of Serro, on their own account took a radical step in an attempt to remove the risks of contamination by the coronavirus. The community put a padlock on a gate on the side road to the village, which is 15 kilometers away from the district of Milho Verde. Only the inhabitants of Capivari pass through the place, as they have the secret number that opens the gate lock.
Capivari has about 120 houses and approximately 300 residents. The region is highly sought after by tourists because of the landscapes of the Itamb peak, the highest point in the Serra do Espinhao (2,060m altitude).