Coronavirus: Brazilian Bolsonaro weakens law requiring face masks

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Media captionBBC correspondent in South America, Katy Watson, examines how Bolsonaro reacted to the virus in Brazil

The President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, has sanctioned a law making the use of masks in public compulsory during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, he vetoed their use in stores, churches and schools.

In a social media show, Bolsonaro said people could have been fined for not wearing masks at home.

He has refused to acknowledge the severity of the Covid-19 epidemic in Brazil, although he has the second highest number of cases and deaths in the world.

The virus has infected nearly 1.5 million people and killed 61,884 people there since the end of February, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

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Reuters

Legend

There have been almost 1.5 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Brazil


BBC correspondent in South America Katy Watson said Jair Bolsonaro never cared much about masks – a health recommendation that has become highly politicized, as has much of the management of coronavirus crisis in Brazil.

Even when the use of the mask was made compulsory, not everyone respected the rules and the application is often quite lax, adds our correspondent.

The bill passed by the Chamber of Deputies included an article saying that masks should be worn by people in “commercial and industrial establishments, religious temples, educational premises and also closed places where people gather ”

Friday, Bolsonaro vetoed the article, arguing that it could result in the violation of property rights.

He also vetoed another demanding the distribution of masks to the poor.

The Congress has 30 days to cancel the vetoes by absolute majority vote.


Last month, a judge ordered the president to wear a mask in public – which he often refused to do. However, the order was later quashed by another court.

Bolsonaro stressed that quarantine and social distancing are not necessary to fight the coronavirus and will only harm the fragile Brazilian economy.

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Media captionHear the man who resigned as minister of health in Brazil as the pandemic worsened

Bars were allowed to open in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday evening, where more than 6,600 people died of Covid-19.

Federal Congressman David Miranda published a photograph showing dozens of people drinking on a street in the Leblon district of the city without appearing to be wearing masks or observing social distancing.

“An announced tragedy,” he tweeted. ” [Rio de Janeiro Mayor Marcelo] Crivella’s decision to open the doors of business will have a high cost. ”

Crivella’s office told Reuters news agency law enforcement personnel had asked several establishments to close on Thursday to allow crowds to gather.

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