Despite Omicron, Rio de Janeiro comes back to life and enjoys the Brazilian summer

By Bruno Meyerfeld

Posted today at 10:10 a.m.

Feet in the sand, comfortably seated on his lounge chair facing the ocean, Marcelo nevertheless looks worried. He glances right then left, watching warily the crowds of thousands of bathers crowded together on Ipanema Beach. “This is the first time that I have returned to the beach in two years of the pandemic! “, admits this fifty-something, living in Rio de Janeiro and part of a cosmetics company.

“I admit: I’m a little scared! I sit a little apart, I came only with my daughter and my wife and I do not consume anything… ”, details Marcelo, graying hair and chest reddened by the sun. On this radiant Brazilian summer afternoon, he was the only one to take such precautions. The beach is packed and the sea is wet with suntan lotion and oil. No clouds on the horizon. No mask.

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After two years of pandemic, Rio is coming back to life. The city is now seeing its indicators in green after having gone through an unprecedented tragedy, burying more than 35,000 of its own (620,000 in Brazil), carried away by the Covid-19, We only diagnose a handful of new cases daily, against more than 2,000 at the height of the epidemic. Barely twenty patients are hospitalized today. They were nearly 1,500 in July 2021.

“The fear is gone! “

City of pleasure and enjoyment, Rio has found a smile again. On the first aid station number 8, in Ipenama, the rescuers wrote in red and in bold: ” happiness “, “Joy” in Portuguese. A few meters away, on the sand, Dayla, 27, an azure blue bikini adorned with flowers, seems more concerned about sunburn than about the Covid-19. “I live in the neighborhood. Here, it’s armored every day. It’s unreal, even in this season ”, she says.

Zêêne evening in Madureira, in the northern zone of Rio de Janeiro, on December 27, 2021.
On the dance floor during the Zê êne party, in Madureira, in the northern zone of Rio de Janeiro, on December 27, 2021.

“The fear is gone! “, repeats the young woman. In Rio, everything has reopened, without exception, and almost without restriction. The “deal” proposed by the mayor, Eduardo Paes (center right), to his town is simple: okay for the party, but only if everyone gets vaccinated. The Cariocas “toped”: 97% of adults received their two doses. The campaign for the booster shot has started and that of the fourth in preparation. The anti-ax movement is non-existent.

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Result: for a summer, Rio takes off again. Literally. In the shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain, a long line of visitors waits to take off to one of the most beautiful views in the world. They are more than 10,000 to board the cable car every day, as full as a metro at rush hour. “There are no more gauges. We only check the vaccination certificates ”, explains an employee.

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