Arts & Entertainment

Rio carnival returns as Covid-19 state of emergency lifted

By Carlos A. Moreno

Rio de Janeiro, Apr 23 (EFE).- The Special Group samba schools, whose parades are considered the world’s largest outdoor show, returned to the Rio de Janeiro Sambadrome, the official venue of the carnival, on Friday after a two-year gap due to the pandemic and on the day that Brazil lifted a coronavirus-related public health emergency.

At 10 pm, the award-winning Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school kicked off two nights of presentations of the Special Group samba schools, whose parades are the biggest attraction of the world’s most famous carnival.

The parades began exactly 12 hours after Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga repealed the decree of February 2020 under which the government had declared a state of public health emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The state of emergency had resulted in social distancing measures over the last two years, including the cancellation of the carnival.

The resumption of the opulent and vibrant samba school presentations also coincided with a decline on Friday of the average daily Covid-19 deaths in Brazil to 93, the lowest level since Apr. 9, 2020 (92 per day), when the pandemic had just begun.

It was this drop in coronavirus deaths as well as infections to levels similar to those at the start of the pandemic that prompted the government to lift the emergency and for Rio de Janeiro’s mayor office to authorize the return of samba schools to the Sambadrome.

The 12 schools of the Special Group, each with some 4,000 musicians and elaborately costumed dancers with giant floats presenting an allegorical theme, will have a minimum of 65 minutes to cross the 700 meters of the Sambadrome and show that Brazil’s most iconic city has left the pandemic behind.

The Sambadrome had been closed for the Special Group schools since Feb. 25, 2020, when the last parade concluded and the health crisis erupted.

Brazil has been one of the worst affected countries by the coronavirus pandemic with a total of 30.3 million infections and 662,557 deaths.

The crisis forced Rio’s mayor’s office to cancel the 2021 carnival for the first time since the festival began to be held in 1840.

The 2022 carnival was also canceled in January, when the highly transmissible omicron variant triggered a third wave of the pandemic in Brazil with record numbers of infections.

However, later, amid expectations that the emergency would be lifted, the mayor announced that samba schools would parade in April, two months later than the usual date. EFE


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