International passengers arriving into Brazil by plane who are not vaccinated will have to quarantine for five days in the city they're visiting, in line with new rules published on Thursday.
In addition to the current requirement that travelers present a negative COVID-19 test before departing for Brazil, from Saturday unvaccinated passengers will now have to quarantine for five days at the address registered in their traveler declaration form, the government announced. Once the five days are up, travelers must submit a second negative test and check-in with local health authorities before they're permitted to leave quarantine.
Brazil has been an outlier in South America and indeed much of the world with its relaxed border policies, particularly concerning unvaccinated arrivals. Antonio Barra Torres, Brazil's top health official, told the Associated Press that the new quarantine policy will "mean discouragement of anti-vaccine tourism to Brazil." However, the rules are still pretty vague; it has not yet been made clear how quarantine will be tracked by health officials or even implemented.
Earlier this month, Brazil placed a travel ban on arrivals from six southern African countries after it recorded Latin America's first case of the Omicron strain of COVID-19 from a passenger returning from the region. Most non-resident foreign nationals remain banned from entering Brazil through its land and sea borders.
What other COVID-19 measures are in place in Brazil?
A number of domestic restrictions remain in place throughout Brazil coronavirus cases continue to mount. In Rio de Janeiro, for example, individuals must prove they are vaccinated to enter tourist attractions and restaurants, nightclubs and bars, or to board public transport and take taxis. Face masks are mandatory indoors. In São Paulo and Brasília, proof of vaccination is required to attend certain events but is not generally required to visit establishments.
New Year's Eve and Carnaval celebrations
Brazil is one of the world's top destinations for New Year's Eve celebrations, but official parties have been cancelled in São Paulo and Salvador this year, while last week's decision to cancel Rio de Janerio's famed New Year's Eve party has been reversed. Mayor Eduardo Paes announced on Thursday that the fireworks display will go ahead on Copacabana beach, though the annual concert remains cancelled in the scaled-back event.
"Rio de Janeiro has low (COVID-19) infection rates, low numbers of hospitalisations, and thanks to God and the vaccine, a very low number of deaths. That enables us to hold this event in complete safety," he said via AFP.
A decision has yet to be made about the the city's annual Carnaval celebrations in March, which usually attracts one million visitors.
Brazil has administered nearly eight billon doses of the vaccines, with about 42% of the population fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data.
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