June 18, 2021

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Traveling to Brazil during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

3 min read

Editor’s Note — Coronavirus cases remain high across the globe. Health officials caution that travel increases your chances of getting and spreading the virus. Staying home is the best way to stem transmission. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on March 5.

(CNN) — If you’re planning a trip to Brazil, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the global coronavirus pandemic.

The basics

Brazil has been one of the hardest hit countries by the pandemic. It holds the second highest death toll in the world, second only to the United States, and the Brazilian variant of Covid-19 is rapidly spreading around the globe, thought to be more contagious.

What’s on offer

This is a bucket list destination — a country that really does have everything. Beachside Rio de Janeiro is one of the world’s most beautiful cities, capital Brasilia is a whirl of modernist architecture, and Salvador is the heart of Afro-Brazilian culture. There are some of the best beaches on the planet, plus, of course, the main part of the Amazon rainforest — which visitors can help protect, by contributing toward the conservation economy.

Who can go

Almost everyone. Brazil’s government has been infamously relaxed about the pandemic — and that includes border control. Following a brief closure in 2020, the borders are now open, including to almost all tourists, for stays of up to 90 days.

British visitors are out of luck — Brazil has banned flights to and from the UK since the announcement of the English variant of Covid-19, and nobody who has been in the UK in the past 14 days can go, other than residents, family members of Brazilian nationals, and some business travel.

What are the restrictions?

If flying, before boarding, all arrivals must present a negative PCR test performed within 72 hours, and a traveler’s health declaration form to their airline before boarding (the airline will distribute the form).

Land and sea borders are closed to non-residents, unless en route to fly home. In that case, travelers must get authorization in advance, present a note from their own embassy or consulate authorizing their crossing at the border, show the plane ticket and go straight to the airport.

There is no quarantine on arrival. Even quarantine for those with symptoms is voluntary.

What’s the Covid situation?

Dire. Throughout the pandemic, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has criticized the use of masks and threatened governors who adopt lockdowns measures, and as of March 5 the country has had 10.8 million cases, and 261,000 deaths. March 3 saw the highest daily number of deaths since the pandemic began, with 1,910 deaths — a record number for the second day in a row. The country is now in the grip of a new wave, and scientists have said that the country is in its worst state so far,

Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state in the Amazon region, has been hit appallingly hard, with hospitals running out of oxygen. The Brazilian variant is thought to have emerged here, after it had been thought that the area might even have been approaching herd immunity.

Brazil has currently vaccinated 3.5% of the population with their first injection.

What can visitors expect?

The Brazilian government has done little to limit the spread nationally, but individual states have introduced measures — São Paulo state, for example, closed everything other than essential services for Christmas and New Year, and Minas Gerais also imposed harsh restrictions.

Currently there are lockdown restrictions in Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia and São Paulo, all opposed by Bolsonaro but introduced by local authorities.

Rio’s restrictions, which stared March 5, include the closure of restaurants at 5 p.m. and a curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Nightclubs have been closed.

São Paulo reopened bars, restaurants and shopping malls on weekends on February 6, but declared a “red alert” on March 3. Restaurants and bars are closed for another two weeks, public gatherings have been prohibited, and there’s a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

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CNN’s Julia Buckley contributed to this report

2021-03-05 10:04:08

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