Rio de Janeiro street carnival canceled due to omicron advance

The authorities of Rio de Janeiro they decided this tuesday suspend its massive street parades of the next carnival, given the advance of the omicron variant that, combined with the end of the year festivities, is causing an increase in cases in Brazil.

“The street carnival in the way it was held until 2020 (…) will not take place in 2022,” said the mayor of Rio, Eduardo Paes, in a live broadcast on social networks, highlighting the difficulties in controlling this celebration at a time of rising infections.

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Paes made the announcement after a meeting with representatives of the musical Corsicans (‘blocos’) that participate in the carnival. The samba ‘escolas’ parades, which take place in a more controlled environment within the Sambadrome, for the moment they remain until the end of February.

“The street carnival, by its very nature and democratic character, makes any type of inspection impossible”, Paes added.

It is the second consecutive year that the pandemic forces the suspension of Rio’s street carnival, a succession of open-air parties behind ‘blocos’ that run through the city dragging crowds, scheduled between February 25 and March 1.

Seeking a more controlled environment, he proposed to hold events during February in three different spaces in the city, Paes said.

But that proposal was not accepted by the blocos. “They agreed to make a counterproposal,” he explained.

“We do not have identification with the proposed places, such as the Olympic Park, which is far away and has no relationship with us like our neighborhoods,” Rita Fernandes, president of the association of ‘blocos’ Sebastiana, representative of several of these, told AFP. groups.

On Friday there will be a new meeting to try to reach an agreement, to which the ‘blocos’ will take “a more decentralized proposal,” he explained.

“We are very sad, but since it is not possible, we adapt to science. The carnival will not pass without celebration“, assured Fernandes.

In the 2020 carnival, the last before the pandemic, some 7 million partiers participated in the street parades, the largest of them up to a million people, according to the mayor’s office tourism agency, Riotur.

After the arrival of the omicron variant and due to the Holidays, several cities in Brazil register an increase in covid cases, including Rio.

Brazil accumulates 620,000 deaths from covid since the start of the pandemic.

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