Coronavirus

Masks ‘optional’ in Bolsonaro’s presidential palace

Masks 'optional' in Bolsonaro's presidential palace
President Jair Bolsonaro on August 12. Photo: Marcos Correra/PR

The federal government hosted a ceremony on Thursday at the presidential palace to honor the promotion of Army generals. Attendees were told that face masks were “optional,” and most of them immediately removed their masks. Roughly 30 officers were promoted, all of whom are aged 62 or older — thus placing them in an at-risk group.

Besides President Jair Bolsonaro, Defense Minister Walter Braga Netto and the president’s top security officer, retired Army General Augusto Heleno, were not wearing masks.

Earlier this year, Mr. Bolsonaro talked about “side effects” caused by masks, during a Facebook Live broadcast. Crediting an unnamed “German university,” he listed a series of undesired effects such as “irritability, headaches, lack of concentration, feelings of unhappiness, refusal to attend school, lethargy, learning disabilities, vertigo, and fatigue.”

The “study” Mr. Bolsonaro cited was in fact an unscientific online poll conducted by five researchers at Witten/Herdecke University, outside Dortmund.