Rio's famed beaches to remain closed until a Covid-19 vaccine is available

The city's mayor has announced that sunbathing and swimming will remain off limits for the foreseeable future

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 05: An aerial view at Ipanema beach amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on July 5, 2020 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The practice of physical activities on boardwalks and individual sports at sea is allowed. However, the use of chairs and tents on the sand is still prohibited. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
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Rio de Janeiro’s famed beaches will not reopen until a vaccine for Covid-19 is readily available, the city’s mayor has announced.

Despite being a hot spot for tourists and locals alike, Rio’s sandy beaches are currently only open for exercise and watersports. Nonetheless, causal beachgoers have been breaking these rules in recent weeks, with many not using masks or adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Rio's beaches have traditionally been a magnet for tourists and residents. Courtesy AFP

"On the beach, you don't use a mask and the level of infection goes up,” said mayor Marcelo Crivella.

"Where you can't use masks, the inclination is to only return when there is a vaccine, which is being tested, or when contamination is close to zero,” he added.

On the beach, you don't use a mask and the level of infection goes up

Brazil is the second-worst-hit country by the pandemic after the United States, with more than 1.6 million cases of the disease. Rio de Janeiro state has the second-highest death toll in Brazil, with nearly 11,000 people killed.

Nonetheless, many parts of Brazil have begun reopening certain segments of society and last week, Rio city allowed bars and restaurants to restart operations, leading to crowds at some establishments, despite mandated capacity limits and hygiene measures.