Variant coronavirus: Ómicron forces Brazil to forget crowds on New Year’s Eve and endangers Carnival | International

2020 Rio Carnival parades at the Sapucai Sambadrome on February 24, 2020.
2020 Rio Carnival parades at the Sapucai Sambadrome on February 24, 2020.Buda Mendes (Getty Images)

Brazilians, always careful with their appearance, have been immersed in the New Years Eve / Carnival operation for weeks. More exercise than usual, treatments and aesthetic touch-ups and reservations made because the best parties and beaches fill up soon. After a year of abstinence due to the pandemic, the first in more than a century without a parade in the Sambadrome or massive parties in the streets, the anxiety is infinite. Because for many Brazilians life is a countdown to the next Carnival. The return of the most anticipated event of the year was one of the incentives to get vaccinated and turn a deaf ear to the anti-injection speech of President Jair Bolsonaro.

These are the days when in Brazil it is the norm to forget the daily miseries, accentuated by the damn coronavirus, and surrender to enjoyment, to debauchery in all its meanings. It is also a phenomenal business, source of hundreds of thousands of jobs. Individual and collective expectations were through the roof when! Wham! the omicron variant appeared and ruined the most imminent plans. Faced with the confinements in Europe and the alerts from the WHO, Brazilian municipalities are canceling mass events in a chain to receive 2022.

And the Carnival is in serious danger. Those are already big words because of the fortune it moves and because the love for the cult of King Momo and samba is a sister to poor and rich Brazilians, from capital or from the interior. Only the most ultra evangelicals turn their backs on the most Brazilian party of all, be it for fun or work.

In São Paulo, Salvador de Bahia, Recife … New Year’s Eve will be in small committee. Rio de Janeiro is the last of the great capitals that this Saturday has joined them. The end of the year party has also been canceled. “We respect science,” declared its mayor, Eduardo Paes, after explaining that the municipal scientific committee blessed the event, but the state committee did not. “Therefore, it cannot be done. We are going to cancel the official New Year’s Eve celebration in Rio ”. Paes is a politician who lives Carnival, a samba fan elected a year ago to replace an evangelical.

For the second year in a row, on the 31st there will be hundreds of thousands of people in Copacabana and neighboring beaches dressed in white. Tradition also commands seven waves to jump to ensure love, prosperity and a good year.

However, the rehearsals and the rest of the preparations for Carnival keep pace. In addition to being in Rio’s DNA, the festivities and the thousands of visitors they attract are a crucial source of income for public coffers and private pockets.

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The mayor of Rio does not rule out suspending the other great festival in the city listening to the recommendations of the experts, as he explained last Tuesday in a public ceremony. “I am not going to create panic in the population. If we have to adopt restrictions, it will not be only at Carnival. If we have to cancel, we will cancel. Let’s plan until the last moment. There is still a long way to go for Carnival ”.

But while he decides, the thousand activities linked to the end of the year and the Carnival (dressmakers, shoemakers, composers, choreographers, instrumentalists …) continue to go on, giving jobs badly than good to thousands of people. It is a relief from the increase in poverty that accompanies the pandemic. What the mayor has done is to reinforce the vaccine requirement to enter bars, restaurants and beauty salons. It was already required in gyms and stadiums.

Rio also relies on the return of foreign tourists. And no better claim than the Rio de Janeiro singer Anitta, a kind of girl from Ipanema 2.0. Someone paid $ 110,000 this week in a charity bid held in Miami to experience the Carnival with the interpreter of Girl in Rio. The same one that on the eve of the detection of the first covid case in Brazil, on Ash Wednesday 2020, brought together hundreds of thousands of people in the city center.

Carioca Carnival headdresses that will be exhibited in a costume museum in Moulins, France.
Carioca Carnival headdresses that will be exhibited in a costume museum in Moulins, France. THIERRY ZOCCOLAN (AFP)

São Paulo was just days away from lifting the requirement for a mask in public places in view of the high vaccination rates and the decline in hospitalization, but it has backed down due to omicron. The most populated and richest city in America will not say goodbye to the year on Paulista Avenue, although only two weeks ago it hosted the Formula 1 grand prix.

Bibiana Gobo Silva, 40, agrees with the caution of the São Paulo authorities. “Although until a few days ago we had the expectation of celebrating New Year’s Eve and Carnival with friends in large crowds, now I am quite suspicious because I am not sure that, with the covid, it is safe,” says this physiotherapist who is fully immunized like the 63% of Brazilians. “It is a disappointment, yes, but I prefer to take care of myself,” he adds. If you have noticed, it is that patients accumulate and that they arrive with more pain due to stress. It is seen that they are forcing the body to achieve the goals that were imposed at the beginning of 2021.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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