Sao Paulo tightens lockdown to curb Christmas, New Year revelry

Brazil’s southeast state of Sao Paulo, the epicenter of the country’s Covid-19 outbreak, said on Tuesday it will double down on lockdown measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Non-essential businesses will again be closed from December 25 to 27 and January 1 to 3, as part of a return to the red emergency phase of the pandemic, Sao Paulo Secretary of Economic Development Patricia Ellen said at a press conference.

Essential services, such as public transit, supermarkets, pharmacies and bakeries will operate, but with severely limited hours, the Xinhua news agency reported.

“Sao Paulo is making the decisions that this moment demands,” said Ellen, adding it “is not a time for parties or crowds.”

Covid-19 deaths in Sao Paulo rose 34 per cent in four weeks, alarming authorities, especially with year-end celebrations looming. The state has registered 45,395 Covid-19 deaths, out of the more than 1,87,000 deaths registered across Brazil, which has the world’s second-highest Covid-19 death toll.