Covid in Brazil

Dealing with Covid in Brazil

Since March 2020, the world has been on high alert. And Brazil is one of the places that is still talked about on the news. The outbreak of Covid in Brazil has been catastrophic, and for a long time we have been trying to find ways to handle the pandemic without losing hope on better days to come. 

So for now it is important to talk about the situation with Covid in Brazil and how the country has been dealing with it. What are the restrictions in place? What are the new social norms? What is it like to deal with Covid in Rio de Janeiro? And what is Rio & Learn doing to protect its students?

Students from Rio & Learn go to Feria de São Cristóvão during a RioLIVE! activity, following restrictions of covid in Brazil.

Covid, Brazil and Restrictions

Thanks to President Bolsonaro, we can never run out of examples of outrageous claims minimizing the pandemic. And these seem to make international news more often than anything else regarding Covid in Brazil. An important thing to note, however, is that Bolsonaro doesn’t accurately represent everything that’s going on in the country. Nor does he truly show how seriously the government officials are taking this crisis.

Since Brazil is a federal republic, the states and cities hold a certain degree of autonomy to create and enforce their own policies. And this is exactly what’s been happening with the spread of Covid in Brazil. States and cities decide independently on the use of masks, public transport, and social life in general. This means, rules may change from city to city, and state to state. So you’d better do your research if you want to travel around here!

And, yes, you can still travel! Brazil is accepting international travelers, but there are some rules to follow. Since December, 2021, travelers are required to present proof of vaccination from their countries. There is also the necessity to present a negative PCR Covid test (in English, Spanish or Portuguese) done in your country within 72 hours before landing. You also need to print and sign the Declaração de Saúde do Viajante (DSV), a health history to be presented to your airline before your trip; nd again to Brazilian authorities when arriving in Brazil. Although unvaccinated Brazilians can enter the country with the option of quarantine, foreigners do not have the same option. The vaccination of foreigners is mandatory, as well as the presentation of the PCR Covid test and DSV.

You can enjoy Brazil as you choose to, and even with some Covid restrictions in place, immigration offices and the Polícia Federal are still open and granting student visas in Brazil.

Covid in Rio de Janeiro

Alright, so each city has different restrictions, rules and methods to prevent the spread of the virus. So what are the restrictions for Covid in Rio de Janeiro? And how dangerous is it? Well, there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that Rio is a densely populated city, and the second largest city in Brazil. That’s scary. But, the good news is that at the same time, Rio is the perfect city to be outdoors.

Beaches, parks, nature reserves, trekking and hiking – these are all part of Rio’s outdoorsy culture. And being outdoors puts you at less risk of contamination. Not to mention that since Rio is a coastal city, the weather doesn’t vary much and it tends to be warm all day long and all year round. That makes you less susceptible to getting sick.

That’s not to say that it’s all roses. Some of the fun things to do in Rio might be hard to do right now. But it won’t keep you from having fun on our RioLIVE! activities. And you can still take a Portuguese course in Rio de Janeiro!

Covid in Brazil. Rio & Learn activities in Rio de Janeiro
Students from Rio & Learn spend an afternoon playing beach volleyball during a RioLIVE! activity.
Covid in Brazil. Rio & Learn has classes outdoors.

Life with Covid in Brazil

Let’s talk about another important part of life in Brazil since Covid: social norms and restrictions. As mentioned, states and cities don’t always share the same rules regarding Covid prevention. For that reason, we’ll focus on Rio – after all, it’s where we are located.

Since December 2021, you don’t have to use masks in open air spaces in Rio. This was done because the Health Department reached very positive conclusions! In Rio, 73% of the population was already vaccinated with two doses; there is a proven low rate of transmission and a drop in the number of severe cases of the disease.

However, when we talk about indoor places, it is quite different. Now, to go indoors (i.e. go to a movie, eat in a restaurant or stay in a hotel) people must have a vaccination passport. The vaccination passport is nothing more than proof that the person has taken one of the covid vaccines available and recognized by ANVISA (National Health Surveillance Agency). This proof of vaccination must be in English, Portuguese or Spanish. This policy is also true for open places that have a tourist presence (such as Christ the Redeemer, Sugar Loaf Mountain, Jardim Botânico, etc.). Remember, the use of masks indoors is still mandatory, so don’t forget yours when you leave the house!

Another thing to keep in mind is social distancing. Whenever you’re queuing up for something or going to a bar or the movies, you should know that they require distance between clients. If you’re waiting in line, they’ll indicate the required minimum of 1m distance. Even though you spotted five free tables, that doesn’t mean that the waitress has to give you a seat right now.

Also, keep an eye out for signs on the floor in stores, banks and supermarkets, as well. They indicate the distance you should have between yourself and other people in line. Despite the fact that Brazilians are a very warm people, they won’t appreciate if you step any closer to them in times like these.

How Rio & Learn Is Trying to Keep Students Safe

Naturally, our Portuguese language school couldn’t just ignore the pandemic. And with the safety of our staff and students in mind, we implemented some measures.

Basing ourselves on research indicating a decreased risk of contamination outdoors, we decided to give classes in open sided restaurants, beach bars, parks, squares, street markets (and even on the beach!) turning all these interesting areas into our classrooms! This was no biggie – our Portuguese teachers were already used to teaching outside the school thanks to our livelearning methodology. And, you tell me, wouldn’t it be fun to have class by the beach while sipping some coconut water?

Before heading out to practice and learn Portuguese on the streets of Rio, however, you should meet your teacher at the school. Inside, we still try to keep safe. You can find hand sanitizer bottles in every classroom. And don’t forget to wear a mask in school! Students meet their teachers in separate classrooms to avoid people gathering in the communal areas.

It’s important to keep in mind that staying safe is a group effort. We count on our students to be responsible and take precautions in the face of Covid in Brazil. After all, a single suspected Covid case will lead to a halt of in-person classes for your group (or sometimes even the entire school) for two weeks in order to quarantine. That’s two weeks of having online classes stuck in your apartment instead of learning around the streets of Rio. So everybody has to pitch in with their share of responsibility and solidarity.

Everyone at RIo & Learn has to pitch in with their share of responsibility and solidarity to face Covid in Brazil.
Outdoor classes in Rio de Janeiro with Rio & Learn - safer amidst covid in Brazil.

What to Expect of the Situation with Covid in Brazil

No one is quite sure when the pandemic will be over. The great news is that the vaccination campaign against Covid in Brazil has been progressing and until now a great part of all citizens have been fully vaccinated. This means most people have had two shots, if they didn’t get a single-dose vaccine. The government has already started a campaign to third doses to reinforce the citizen’s immune response. Our teachers are already fully vaccinated because they’ve gained priority as educational professionals.

Although Covid created a chaotic scenario at the beginning of the pandemic, Brazil is now seeing very positive results. The vaccine culture in Brazil is well accepted by citizens. Even having started vaccination after other countries, Brazil already is the fourth country in a ranking of number of vaccine doses applied in the world. And each Brazilian state has two scientific committees (one state and one municipal) to help with decision-making and flexibility.

An interesting fact that few foreigners know about health in Brazil is that you are entitled to medical care even if you are from another country. This also applies to the vaccination schedule: if you are in Brazil and have to take a dose of any vaccine (covid, flu, tetanus, yellow fever, etc), just go to a vaccination center and you will receive your vaccine free of charge. I am sure this will give you some peace of mind when coming to Brazil!

Overall, Covid in Rio de Janeiro has not made it any less of a functioning city. But it’s still important to take precautions, and keep up with the news. Since the vaccination campaign started, we can notice a positive change in the numbers of severe cases of the disease in Brazil.

And even if you’d like to wait and see what happens from the comfort of your own home, you can still learn Portuguese online. Whether you decide to come now or when the pandemic eases, you’ll always be more than welcome to join us for a class in person in Rio.