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Bolsonaro strikes down mandatory use of masks in churches

. Jul 03, 2020
Bolsonaro strikes down mandatory use of masks in churches President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Marcos Corrêa/PR

Jair Bolsonaro has signed into law a bill making facemask use mandatory in public spaces. The Brazilian president, however, vetoed some articles — essentially creating several exceptions to the rule. The use of masks will not be required at government agencies or organizations, nor in commercial and industrial establishments, religious temples, or private spaces in which people gather.

The president claimed that the original scope of the law would be overreaching and configure an “invasion” of citizens’ right to privacy. 

Companies will not be required to provide staffers with free face masks, despite the fact that Brazilian law orders employers to provide safety materials to employees. 

In another veto, Mr. Bolsonaro removed an article forcing public administrations to provide masks to economically vulnerable populations. 

Not setting an example on masks

Despite coronavirus cases and deaths continuing to rise, it is common to see Brazilians walking on the streets without using protective gear. Many states have made the use of masks mandatory, with transgressors running the risk of being fined — but regulations haven’t been widely enforced. One notable case of punishment concerns former Education Minister Abraham Weintraub, fined BRL 2,000 for attending a demonstration without using a mask.

Mr. Weintraub, however, is not the only authority who failed to set an example. During the inauguration of a new health facility, Brasília Governor Ibaneis Rocha did not use facial protection, and President Bolsonaro himself has appeared in public multiple times without a face mask. One federal court issued a ruling specifically forcing Mr. Bolsonaro to use one in public, but the decision was struck down by an appeals court, as the president is already subject to local regulations.

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Gustavo Ribeiro

An award-winning journalist, Gustavo has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics and international affairs. He has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets and founded The Brazilian Report in 2017. He holds a master’s degree in Political Science and Latin American studies from Panthéon-Sorbonne University in Paris.

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