Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has exercised his veto power to water down parts of a national law that would require the use of face masks on public transportation, in commercial and religious establishments and other enclosed public spaces.
The law, approved by Congress on June 9, stipulates fines for those who do not wear masks in public places, but this part was vetoed by Bolsonaro, who on Friday argued that it may violate the rights of those meeting in their homes for business or other purposes, reports Xinhua news agency.
The President also vetoed a paragraph that obligated the government to provide masks to economically vulnerable sectors of the population, as well as a clause requiring companies to provide free masks to employees.
Several local governments have adopted the mandatory use of masks in public places, but no law had previously been enacted at the national level.
Brazil currently accounts for the second highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the world at 1,539,081 and 61,884, respectively, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
Last month, a judge ordered the President to wear a mask in public – something he has often refused to do, the BBC reported.
However, the order was later rescinded by another court.
Bolsonaro has insisted that quarantine and social distancing are not necessary to combat the coronavirus and will only damage the fragile Brazilian economy.
On Thursday night, bars were allowed to open in Rio de Janeiro, where more than 6,600 people have died of COVID-19.
Federal Congressman David Miranda posted a photograph showing dozens of people drinking on a street in the city’s Leblon district without appearing to wear masks or observe social distancing.