Sao Paulo Floats Early Holidays to Try to Slow Spread of Virus

(Bloomberg) -- Elected officials running the state and city of Sao Paulo, the epicenter of Brazil’s coronavirus pandemic, want to declare almost a week of holidays to keep people indoors and slow the spread of the disease.

Sao Paulo state governor Joao Doria and Bruno Covas, mayor of Brazil’s largest city, said at a press conference on Monday that they’re asking lawmakers to bring forward holidays scheduled for the months of June, July and even November to be used in the coming week.

The goal is to keep more people at home and allow the local health system to prepare more hospital beds as ICU occupation reaches 91% in the megacity amid the pandemic. The state has been tracking people’s movements via geolocation data, and found that on weekends and holidays the number of people abiding by social isolation orders has risen. On weekdays, less than 50% of the population has stayed home, a figure which the government says is not enough to keep the local health system from collapsing.

Doria said other mayors in the state have been advised to follow suit and declare holidays on May 26 and 27. Sao Paulo, which accounts for about a third of Brazil’s gross domestic product, has 63,006 confirmed Covid-19 infections, about 20% of the total. Nationwide, cases have surpassed 241,000, with 16,118 deaths.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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