Municipal, state-level authorities declare a state of emergency

rio de janeiro state of emergency
Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel. Photo: Fernando Frazão/ABr

In the last few hours, several cities and states have declared a state of emergency, as the number of Covid-19 infections in Brazil continue to rise. These measures have been taken in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Paraíba, as well as in cities in Espírito Santo and the city of São Paulo. At the very least, many states are suspending classes in public schools.

After cases in Rio de Janeiro reached 31 on Monday, Governor Wilson Witzel declared a state of emergency, as asked citizens for common sense measures. “Don’t challenge the disease. Whoever did that is crying for their dead,” he said, begging people to stay at home unless there is a true emergency.

On Sunday, Rio de Janeiro residents and tourists decided to ignore all warnings and enjoy a sunny day at the beach. “We will not allow gatherings at beaches. The time is for staying home in order to control an epidemic,” said Mr. Witzel. The governor has restricted circulation, ordered the closure of shopping malls and gyms, and reduced opening hours of food courts and bars. As of Tuesday, two of Rio’s biggest tourist attractions (the Corcovado mountain and the Sugarloaf cable car) will stop working for the next 15 days.

In the city of São Paulo, Mayor Bruno Covas suspended, until further notice, vehicle circulation measures and all events that need city permits. All cultural and social work venues—except for those that host homeless people—have also been closed. “Every day, coronavirus cases grow by 40 to 50 percent in our city. We are still grasping how this disease behaves and, based on experts’ advice, have implemented restrictive measures,” said the mayor.

Mr. Covas said the city is preparing restrictive measures on bars, restaurants, shopping malls, and nightclubs—estimating losses in tax revenue of around BRL 1.5 billion in 2020.The states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro account for 78 percent of all cases in Brazil.