São Paulo lifts mask mandates indoors

mask mandates masks
“No entry without a mask,” says sign at at the door of a shop. Photo: Fernando Frazão/ABr

The state government of São Paulo announced on Thursday that face masks will no longer be mandatory in closed spaces — except on public transportation and health units. On March 9, the state had already lifted mask mandates for outdoor spaces.

“Finally without masks,” Governor João Doria enthusiastically wrote on his Twitter account. “The progress of vaccination and the drop in hospitalizations and deaths allow us to take this measure.”

The state government’s decision was quickly followed by the municipal administration of São Paulo city, the state capital.

According to researchers from the University of São Paulo, the state — which is home to 22 percent of the Brazilian population — has observed a 35-percent decrease in the number of overall Covid hospitalizations in the past 14 days, and a 40-percent decrease for new cases requiring intensive care.

However, the state’s Covid transmission rate has seen a slight uptick in recent days, from 0.64 a week ago to 0.7 today. This means that every 100 people will infect another 70, who will then be expected to infect another 49, and so on. While the spread is receding, experts preach caution, pointing at Covid spikes in China and Europe.

Governor Doria says there is no need for mask mandates at the moment, but that his administration would be ready to change its stance if the epidemiological situation worsens.