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  • Crosses installed in tribute to the victims of COVID-19, Brasilia, Brazil, June 28.

    Crosses installed in tribute to the victims of COVID-19, Brasilia, Brazil, June 28. | Photo: EFE

Published 3 July 2020
Opinion

As of Friday morning, Brazil had reported 1,508,991 COVID-19 cases and 62,304 deaths.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro Friday passed a bill on the mandatory use of masks against COVID-19 but vetoed some provisions that required their use in places where people gather such as shops, religious temples, and schools.

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The far-right politician, who has always downplayed the importance of physical isolation, argued that wearing masks in such cases "incurs a possible violation of residence" contrary to the Constitution.

He also vetoed other clauses that required public authorities to distribute masks to the most economically vulnerable population and companies to supply masks to their workers free of charge.

The law still obliges the population to keep "mouth and nose covered by individual protection masks" on the streets and public transport.

Bolsonaro's vetoes, which will still have to be analyzed by Congress, do not annul the laws approved by local governments, which force citizens to wear face masks under penalty of fines.

On Thursday, the Brazilian president criticized the bill because, according to him, there was the possibility of being fined for being home without a mask.

"I signed several vetoes to a bill requiring the mandatory use of masks, even inside the house. No one is going to enter your house to fine you," he said, although the bill did not mention such a possibility.

Last month, a federal judge ruled that Bolsonaro had to wear a mask when in public. During the pandemic, besides walking at the Brasilia's streets without a mask, the former Captain has also participated in rallies in which physical distancing measures were not respected at all.

However, a second instance court annulled that decision after an appeal by the Advocacy General of the Union, which represents the interests of the Brazilian State.

Bolsonaro's decision, which occurs at a time when Brazil has the second-largest number of COVID-19 cases in the world, was criticized by governors and prefects who have been trying to control the pandemic with tenacity.

"If Bolsonaro comes to the Sao Paulo state, he will have to wear a mask... Here a mask is obligatory for the governor, the mayor, and all citizens because, here, we appreciate life," Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria stressed, as reported by local outlet RICMAIS

As of Friday morning, Brazil had officially reported 1,508,991 COVID-19 cases and 62,304 deaths.

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