Brazilian court rejects order requiring president to wear face mask

A judge in Brazil on Tuesday dismissed a court ruling order for president Jair Bolsonaro to wear a face mask in public during the COVID-19 pandemic. Judge Daniele Maranhao Costa said the order was unnecessary since face masks are already mandatory in the capital Brasilia.

The attorney general’s office, which represents the government in legal matters, made precisely that argument in its appeal filed on Friday. Maranhao Costa, however, did not say whether the far-right president should or should not wear a mask, simply that the specific order concerning the president was redundant.

In his appeal, Bolsonaro simply asked to be treated as any other resident of the country’s federal capital, where mask use has been mandatory since April. Breaking the rule can result in a fine of 2,000 reales — nearly $400 — and so far, the president has not been fined for failing to wear a mask.

Bolsonaro has regularly broken the social distancing measures in place in the capital, giving handshakes and hugs at rallies, hosting barbecues, hitting the shooting range and going out for hot dogs, generally without a mask. The president, who has famously compared the virus to a “little flu,” has railed against the measures state and local authorities are taking to fight it, arguing that business closures and stay-at-home measures are needlessly wrecking the economy.

However, since the first ruling on June 22, Bolsonaro has worn a mask at all public appearances. Brazil has the second-highest COVID-19 death toll in the world after the United States, with nearly 60,000 deaths and 1.4 million confirmed cases. [AFP]

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