São Paulo cancels New Year celebrations and keeps mask requirements

São Paulo New Year mask mandates
New Year’s Eve celebration on Paulista Avenue. Photo: Marcelo Pereira/Secom

After three patients in São Paulo tested positive for the Omicron coronavirus variant this week, state authorities decided to backpedal on their decision to lift mask mandates in outdoor spaces as of December 11. “All numbers show the pandemic is receding, but we will err on the side of caution,” Governor João Doria said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, authorities in the state capital announced their decision to cancel New Year’s celebrations to avoid a spread of the Omicron variant. Earlier this week, Mayor Ricardo Nunes had confirmed that a New Year’s event on the iconic Paulista Avenue would take place — but ultimately decided to join 15 other Brazilian capitals in calling off end-of-year festivities.

Health officials claim that initial evidence about Omicron suggests a “heightened risk” of reinfection. In a recent report, they recommended citizens cancel all non-essential travel.

The state of São Paulo has vaccinated 82 percent of its residents, with three-quarters of the population fully immunized.