Rio Carnival 2021 called off until COVID-19 vaccine

Samba school parades and street parties have been suspended

Published in 03/11/2020 - 15:32 By Douglas Correa - Rio de Janeiro

There will be no Carnival street parties in Rio de Janeiro next year. The decision was made during an online meeting joined by Rio de Janeiro’s tourism company Riotur Fábio Villa Flor, infectious disease specialists and representatives from reveler associations and public security agencies.

“The events related to Carnival are directly linked to the availability of the vaccine. Without one, having street carnival parties is impossible, nor can we have samba school parades, as the Independent Samba School League (LIESA) announced last month,” Villa Flor said.

All agreed that street parades should not take place before a safe vaccine against COVID-19 is available. “Without a vaccine, we can’t have Carnival as we know it, as we’ve had for decades. How could we not listen to specialists? How could we not listen to all of those orchestrating the street festivities? The revelers took a very responsible stance, and I commend them for it,” Villa Flor said.

The president of Riotur noted that the pandemic is not over yet. “We’re still in the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, our position is: without a vaccine, we can’t estimate when Carnival Rio 2021 may take place. We’ll be able to devise a plan and talk about dates after it’s here,” he went on to say. Officially, Carnival next year is slated for February 15–16 (Monday and Tuesday).

Rita Fernandes, head of reveler association Bloco Sebastiana, said that, based on the assessment of health agents, chances that the entire population of Rio de Janeiro will be able to be vaccinated by July next year are scarce. “If we grant permission in the second half of the year, we can’t party. It’s too close, and, from the legal standpoint, the second half-year is not viable for us.”

Rita Fernandes reported that Bloco Sebastiana will seek alternatives such as live broadcasts and guest-only events. “Things we may have control over,” she argued.

New Year

Riotur announced that company SRCOM will be tasked with Rio’s 2021 New Year. This is the first time the event is fully financed by the private enterprise, with no funding from the city. SRCOM presented its project to Riotur on Tuesday (Oct. 27).

In a note, Riotur said the proposal brought forward by SRCOM is a perfect match for the new model adopted for the New Year this year, considering the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For the New Year, we’re having six stages spread across emblematic locations in Rio de Janeiro. However, with no audience, all areas will be isolated. The public may watch the show on television or via an online platform, like Riotur’s YouTube channel,” Riotur’s note reads.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Nádia Franco / Nira Foster

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