Brasilia Heads for Lockdown as Hospitals Face Covid Collapse

Brasilia entered a broad lockdown on Sunday, including a daily 8 p.m. ban on alcohol sales, after Covid-19 patients brought the Brazilian capital’s hospitals to the breaking point.

Amid a vaccine shortage and with 98% of beds in intensive-care units occupied, Federal District Governor Ibaneis Rocha decreed the 15 days of restrictions almost a year after Brasilia first entered a lockdown. It’s a sign that the pandemic is worsening again in Brazil, which never imposed a national lockdown and has the second-most Covid-19 deaths after the U.S.

“I’m not happy with the decision,” Rocha said in announcing the lockdown late Friday. “I know it will impact the lives of thousands of people, but it is necessary in face of the seriousness of the situation.”

Under the decree, only essential services such as supermarkets, banks and pharmacies as well as places of worship are allowed to open. Malls, bars, restaurants, parks, gyms and other places where crowds can congregate are closed, while private schools that reopened for in-person learning in September have to shut down again.

Services had gradually reopened in Brasilia since a monthlong lockdown that began last March.

President Jair Bolsonaro complained on Sunday about the decision, saying on Twitter Brazilians “want to work.”

On Friday, he also made his position clear. “The ‘stay at home, the economy we’ll see later’ policy didn’t work and it won’t work,” Bolsonaro said in a speech in northeastern Brazil.

Brazil surpassed 10 million Covid-19 cases and 250,000 deaths linked to the virus this month. Weekly cases increased last week, ending a one-month decline, according to Health Ministry data. Only 3.8% of the population has been vaccinated.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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