Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who tested positive for the novel coronavirus earlier this week, reiterated the need to reopen the country’s economy despite the worsening COVID-19 situation.
In an online broadcast on Thursday, the President emphasized that a potential economic crisis was more dangerous than the ongoing pandemic, warning the consequences will be harmful to the country, reports Xinhua news agency.
Bolsonaro, who repeatedly played down the risks posed by the virus which he termed “a little flu” and asserting that he would not be seriously affected by it, was tested positive on Tuesday after undergoing a fourth test after he showed symptoms, including fever, cough and headache.
His report came as he urged regional governors to ease lockdowns and diluted directions on face masks.
In fact, the President has frequently appeared in public events without donning a mask, including the Independence Day celebration at the US Embassy last week.
Brazil currently accounts for the second highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the world at 1,755,779 and 69,184, respectively, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
Meanwhile, Sau Paulo, one of the worst-hit cities in Brazil, announced on Thursday that the return to the “new normal” will include the reopening of 70 parks, squares and gyms from July 13 onwards.
Sao Paulo Mayor Bruno Covas was authorized by the city government to reopen the public areas with restrictions as the occupancy of intensive care beds in the city’s hospitals has dropped below 65 percent.
“We will do everything with the necessary care so that there are no crowds,” Covas said at a press conference.
The reopening of parks and squares is part of an array of measures, including the opening of street shops and shopping malls for a limited time per day, as well as bars and restaurants, which are now authorized to operate until 5 p.m.
Visitors in parks will be monitored for compliance in performing permitted activities, such as running, walking, or biking and group activities in parks will still be prohibited.
“The drinking fountains will be out of operation and it will be mandatory to wear a mask,” said Covas.
Gyms and fitness centers were also beginning to adopt the necessary biosecurity protocols for their reopening next week.