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Rio Cancels Carnival Street Parades for Second Year on Omicron Wave

Rio de Janeiro canceled its world-renowned Carnival street parades for the second consecutive year as new wave of Covid infections spread through the Brazilian city

Marques de Sapucai Avenue, known as Passarela do Samba, blocked off in Rio de Janeiro, on Feb. 12, 2021.
By Andrew Rosati and Marisa Wanzeller
January 05, 2022 | 09:30 am

Bloomberg — Rio de Janeiro canceled its world-renowned Carnival street parades for the second consecutive year as new wave of Covid infections spread through the Brazilian city.

Mayor Eduardo Paes announced Tuesday evening after meeting with health officials that a recent surge in Covid cases, likely related to the Omicron variant, forced him to prohibit street celebrations, which attract hundreds of thousands of party-goers each year.

“The street carnival, by its very nature, due to the democratic aspect it has, makes it impossible to exercise any kind of inspection,” Paes said in a web broadcast.

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Unlike last year, though, the mayor said parades of samba schools through the city’s Marques de Sapucai Sambadrome, where spectators watch from the stands, would proceed.

After a relative lull in infections, Brazilian health officials are beginning to sound the alarm again as the Omicron variant and influenza spread through big cities. In Rio de Janeiro, the number of confirmed positive Covid cases jumped from about in 1% early December to nearly 13% at the end of the month, according to city data.

Other big Brazilian cities are dashing Carnival plans in the wake of the latest pandemic surge. Sao Paulo, the nation’s largest metropolis, is considering transferring street parades to the city Interlagos Formula One racetrack, according to daily Folha do Sao Paulo. The northeastern city of Salvador announced it would cancel street parades, while Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas de Gerais state, said it would not sponsor celebrations this year.