In an attempt to avoid crowds, at least 20 Brazilian states have canceled their Carnival celebrations — originally scheduled for this coming weekend. Not only will traditional block parties and parades not be allowed to go ahead, but most municipal governments are suspending the public holiday altogether, making it a regular work week.
True to form, however, the federal government ignored the pandemic and maintained the holiday for public servants on February 15 and 16. Almost 600,000 federal civil servants will have two days off, with only essential activities operating as normal.
Besides being a massive cultural event, Carnival is also a highly profitable activity in Brazil. Per estimates from the National Confederation of Commerce, the Brazilian economy is set to lose roughly BRL 8 billion (USD 1.4 billion) with this year’s cancellations.
This will be the first time in over 100 years that Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival celebrations will not go ahead. In 1912, the celebration was postponed due to the period of mourning after the death of renowned diplomat José Paranhos, the Baron of Rio Branco, but revelers circumvented the rules and organized two carnivals instead.
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