RIO DE JANEIRO – As Rio de Janeiro’s famous carnival parade continues, the city will cancel its street parties, which typically draw millions of revelers, the mayor said, citing the Omicron variant.
Public coasting celebrations “will not be possible,” Mayor Eduardo Paes Casaid told a press conference on Tuesday. “It’s decided: there will be no street carnival in the tradition of the past.
Mr Paes said the official parade, in which samba groups would present painstakingly choreographed performances flanked by bleachers for 56,000 people, would take place, with some sanitary precautions.
Last year, the carnival was canceled entirely because of the pandemic, but for many Brazilians the real spectacle was the street parties, and the Cariocas, as the people of Rio are called, were devastated by ‘learn that they would not take place.
“I was very excited, very optimistic, for Carnival 2022, even more after a year without Carnival,” said João Ramos, 26.
Mr Ramos, a designer, said as soon as he read the news he shared it with friends, who had already discussed what suits to wear.
“It poured cold water on us, everyone was so sad,” he said.
Still, said Ramos, the decision is understandable. The effect of the end of the year holidays is already being felt: the number of cases is on the rise again, after having plunged for months.
As Carnival approached, many Brazilians had started to rehearse cautiously again, anticipating this samba-fueled explosion of joy as they and millions of visitors swarmed public spaces and shed the sorrows of the previous year.
After two years of the pandemic, they said, it was absolutely necessary.
“With most Brazilians fully immune, we thought this was happening,” said Tatiana Paz, the organizer of a street performance group. “But then the situation got even worse, and there is nothing we can do about it.”
Other big cities like Olinda, São Luís and Florianópolis have also canceled their carnival events in the past 24 hours.
Rio canceled both the parade and street parties in 2021, when Brazil’s death toll rose as its vaccination campaign slowly began. But towards the end of the year, as vaccines became more widely available, Brazilians embraced them: about 68% of the country’s population is fully vaccinated, and the number of cases and deaths in the country plunged. .
The period of relative calm that followed allowed the population to resume socializing. The streets, beaches and bars filled up as summer set in. Over Copacabana Beach, the sky was filled with fireworks as spectators greeted the New Year.
However, cases started to rise again as Omicron spread around the world.
The annual Rio Carnival, considered one of the largest in the world, takes place in the weeks leading up to Ash Wednesday, the Western Christian holy day that marks the start of Lent. Ash Wednesday falls on March 2 this year.
The city’s tradition, with its catchy music and elaborate costumes, has endured and often flourished even in difficult times. Brazilians danced through wars, hyperinflation, repressive military rule, street violence and the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919. Official calls to postpone The carnivals in Brazil in 1892 (for health reasons) and 1912 (to mourn the death of a national hero) were largely ignored.
In another city famous for carnival, New Orleans, this year’s Mardi Gras parades appear to be moving forward. The event was canceled in 2021.