Brazil is closed for 30 days

. Mar 20, 2020
Brazil imposes border restrictions to several countries (but not the U.S.)

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We’re covering Brazil’s decision to impose border controls amid coronavirus fears. How the crisis slashed Brazilians’ trust in the Jair Bolsonaro administration. And the possibility of 20-percent unemployment.

Brazil imposes border restrictions to several countries (but not the U.S.)

In two

separate announcements, the Brazilian government shut down almost all its land borders—with the exception of Uruguay—and restricted the entry of people flying from Europe, Asia, and Australia for at least 30 days. The move aims at stopping infected individuals from arriving in the country. The restrictions do not apply to goods being transported across borders or arriving at airports, Brazilians currently abroad, or foreigners in the following cases:</p> <ul><li>Immigrants with a previously issued residence permit;</li><li>Members of international organizations on official missions;</li><li>Foreign employees accredited by the Brazilian government;</li><li>People attempting to reunite with a Brazilian family member;</li><li>Anyone with a migrant identity card (RNM, formerly RNE);</li><li>Foreigners whose entry is specifically authorized by the government for public interest reasons.</li></ul> <figure class="wp-block-image"><img loading="lazy" width="1024" height="768" src="" alt="" class="wp-image-33527" srcset=" 1024w, 300w, 768w, 610w, 1600w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /><figcaption>A rare sight: Brazil-Paraguay border completely emptied.</figcaption></figure> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> Experts have advised in favor of border shutdowns as a means to slow down the Covid-19 spread.</p> <p><strong>Yes, but … </strong>The Brazilian government seems to be taking measures gradually. First, it only closed the Venezuelan border. Then, it imposed restrictions on South American nationals before restricting flights from Europe, Asia, and Australia. But the U.S., where infections have sharply increased, was not mentioned. The Justice Ministry has not commented on why the restrictions do not affect all countries (or the Uruguayan border).&nbsp;</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Covid-19 erodes government support and increases pessimism</h2> <p>Consultancy Atlas Político has published the <a href="">first opinion poll</a> since the Covid-19 crisis has hit Brazil—and the data is by no means positive for the government. Just a month ago, polls showed that Jair Bolsonaro was favored to win re-election in any tested scenario. Now, 44 percent of voters are in favor of his impeachment.</p> <p><strong>By the numbers.</strong> The survey was carried out between March 16 and 18, with 2,000 respondents. It has a 2 percent margin of error.</p> <ul><li>41 percent say Mr. Bolsonaro is doing a poor or terrible job;</li><li>64 percent disapprove of his management of the Covid-19 crisis (which shows that even his supporters do not agree with his approach);</li><li>57 percent say Brazil will <a href="">go into recession this year</a>;</li><li>80 percent say Brazil&#8217;s healthcare system is <a href="">not prepared for the pandemic</a>—while 73 percent believe public health conditions are getting worse;</li><li>For 38 percent, the crisis will last up to six months;</li><li>While 96 percent of people don&#8217;t know anyone affected by Covid-19, two-thirds of Brazilians are scared to leave their homes.</li></ul> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> In just two weeks, trust in the government has eroded—and things should get much worse very quickly. According to the <a href="">Covid-19 BR Observatory</a>, a platform created by scientists for real-time monitoring of infections, Brazil could have over 3,500 cases by Tuesday (from 621 now).</p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/1618616"><script src=""></script></div> <p><strong>Windows against Bolsonaro. </strong>With Brazilians starting to put themselves in self-isolation, windows and balconies have been turned into protest venues. For the third night in a row, people banged pots and pans yesterday evening in a number of cities, while demanding the president&#8217;s removal.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Consumption drop could double unemployment in Brazil</h2> <p>As infections increase in Brazil and people seek self-isolation, demand for non-essential products will severely dwindle—by some estimates, the reduction could be as much as 30 percent. And some economists see unemployment rates skyrocketing as an immediate side-effect. Some preliminary calculations by Helio Zylberstajn suggest unemployment could rise by 10 percentage points—meaning that one-fifth of Brazilian economically active adults would be out of the workforce.</p> <p><strong>Ripple effect.</strong> When people stop buying, stores stop placing orders to manufacturers, and the effects permeate throughout sectors of the economy.</p> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> Brazilians have already been losing purchase power in a consistent slide since 2014. And things are about to get grimmer—and that could spark social unrest.</p> <p><strong>How are companies dealing with the crisis?</strong> Many companies—from cinema chains to airlines—have proposed to reduce hours and salaries by 35 percent. Others have launched voluntary redundancy programs or are giving employees collective vacations.</p> <p><strong>Reaction.</strong> It has become a worldwide consensus that now is the time for governments to act to prevent a <a href="">full-scale collapse</a>. But Brazil&#8217;s ultra-libertarian Economy Ministry took ten days between the first global economic shock sparked by the coronavirus crisis—an <a href="">oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia</a>—before it announced the first moves to cushion the blow. And, for many economists from all sides of the spectrum, it hasn&#8217;t been enough.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>What else you need to know today</h2> <ul><li><strong>Stock market.</strong> Brazil&#8217;s Securities Commission (CVM) told <strong>The Brazilian Report</strong> that it has no plans to suspend trading or <a href="">ban short-selling</a>—when investors gamble on stocks losing value. The high volatility caused by the coronavirus crisis led <a href="">France, Italy, and Spain</a> to ban short-selling until further notice, while the Philippines to <a href="">suspended its local stock exchange altogether</a>.</li><li><strong>Impeachment.</strong> Fifteen months into his term, President Jair Bolsonaro already has 17 <a href="">impeachment requests filed against him</a>. On Thursday alone, four requests were submitted. House Speaker Rodrigo Maia holds the power to accept or shelve these pleas. Mr. Maia, who called the president &#8220;totally irresponsible&#8221; earlier this week, said he does not intend to disrupt Brazilian politics even more amid the coronavirus crisis.</li><li><strong>Poverty.</strong> Despite the promise to expand cash-transfer program Bolsa Família to cushion the economic downturns of the Covid-19 outbreak, the federal government has actually <em>cut </em>158,000 beneficiaries in March. Two-thirds of them are located in the Northeast, Brazil&#8217;s poorest region. The government says 185,000 joined the program, while another 330,000 &#8220;emancipated&#8221; themselves, presumably by increasing their monthly income. Bolsa Família reaches families with per capita monthly income of BRL 178 (USD 35). Cícero Péricles, a Ph.D. in social economics whose research centers around Bolsa Família, says the move could entail a serious poverty crisis. &#8220;While countries are widening social protections, Brazil shrinks its most-effective anti-poverty program,&#8221; <a href=";utm_content=hyperlink-texto&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=newsletter">he told <em>UOL</em></a>.</li><li><strong>Viruses on a plane.</strong> Sérgio Segovia, head of the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil), has tested positive for Covid-19. <strong>UPDATE: </strong>22 people have been infected with the coronavirus <a href="">after having traveled with President Jair Bolsonaro to the U.S. two weeks ago</a>. This means that <em>3 percent of all confirmed cases in Brazil shared a plane with the president</em>.

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