More than 1.36 million tourists, BRL 2.6 billion in revenue, crowded hotels, and lots of fun. Yes, Brazil’s Carnival is a truly unique experience, which everyone on the planet should try at least once. But anyone keen on getting involved in the lavish parades or countless block parties will have to wait a little longer, as the Covid-19 pandemic has canceled Carnival for the first time in 100 years.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, President Jair Bolsonaro announced that he didn’t intend to put the country on lockdown, as “people’s freedoms” and “the economy” took precedence over the deadly pandemic. The results were unsurprising: the economy crumbled and 234,000 Brazilians and counting have died from Covid-19.
The blame does not lie solely with Mr. Bolsonaro and his most loyal allies. All over the country, people have disrespected isolation measures, attending bars, nightclubs, house parties, ignoring the viral threat and contributing to the worsening of the pandemic.
If the end-of-year holidays were anything to go by, the Carnival period will still cause crowds and public gatherings, even if the traditional street parties have been canceled. In states and municipalities where vacations will still go ahead, we are likely to see throngs of families escaping to the beach and other tourist spots.
While canceling this year’s Carnival was common sense, there are still doubts over whether 2022’s celebrations will be able to go ahead as normal. As of February 11, only 2 percent of the Brazilian population have received a first dose of coronavirus vaccine, meaning that adequate coverage is unlikely to be reached by this time next year.
Until then, all Brazil can do is continue to adhere to social distancing measures wherever possible, and maybe next year we can toss our surgical masks aside and swap them for our favorite Carnival costumes.