São Paulo wants its own vaccine mandates for tourists

vaccine mandates passengers tourists
Guarulhos airport. Photo: Arthur Matsuo/Shutterstock

While the Brazilian federal government opposes the enforcement of vaccine mandates for international travelers, authorities in São Paulo plan on demanding proof of immunization from all tourists arriving at the state’s airports. São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport is Brazil’s busiest and the country’s main entry point by air — in October, 418,153 international passengers landed there.

“If by December 15 the federal government does not enforce a ‘vaccine passport,’ São Paulo will do it. It is our right. While [border customs] are physically controlled by federal authorities, the airport is within São Paulo’s territory — therefore under our responsibility,” said São Paulo Governor João Doria, during a press conference.

The move faces a jurisdictional problem, as border controls (both legal and sanitary) are enforced by the National Sanitary Surveillance Agency (Anvisa), the Federal Police, and the Federal Revenue Service — all under the federal government’s umbrella. The state can only act in spaces such as the airport’s check-in lobby and parking lots.

With President Jair Bolsonaro fiercely opposing vaccine mandates — going as far as saying he would “rather die than lose his freedom” — the government will only require a negative RT-PCR test from travelers, asking those without proof of vaccination to quarantine themselves for five days. The new rules will be effective on Saturday.

State-level sanitary authorities, however, warn that it will be impossible for them to monitor travelers and enforce quarantines. 

Vaccine mandates are yet another issue in the political war between Messrs. Bolsonaro and Doria — who feuded throughout 2020 over Covid restrictions and vaccine purchases. Mr. Doria tried to gain prominence and boost his presidential chances by presenting himself as a leader who followed scientific consensus and brought Brazil’s first vaccines — while Mr. Bolsonaro worked to hinder his efforts.