Traveling to Brazil during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go | CNN

Editor’s Note: Coronavirus cases are in flux across the globe. Health officials caution that staying home is the best way to stem transmission until you’re fully vaccinated. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on July 5.


If you’re planning a trip to Brazil, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the global coronavirus pandemic.

Brazil has been one of the hardest hit countries by the pandemic. It holds the second highest death toll in the world, second only to the United States.

The Gamma Covid-19 variant spread rapidly across Brazil and then around the globe, and is thought to be more contagious.

This is a bucket list destination – a country that really does have everything. Beachside Rio de Janeiro is one of the world’s most beautiful cities, capital Brasilia is a whirl of modernist architecture, and Salvador is the heart of Afro-Brazilian culture. There are some of the best beaches on the planet, plus, of course, the main part of the Amazon rainforest – which visitors can help protect, by contributing toward the conservation economy.

Almost everyone. Brazil’s government has been infamously relaxed about the pandemic – and that includes border control. Following a brief closure in 2020, the borders are now open, including to almost all tourists, for stays of up to 90 days.

British visitors are out of luck – Brazil has banned flights to and from the UK since the announcement of the Alpha variant of Covid-19 first detected in England – and nobody who has been in the UK in the past 14 days can go, other than residents, family members of Brazilian nationals, and some business travel.

Brazil has also banned flights coming from or transiting through India and South Africa.

If flying, before boarding, all arrivals must present a negative PCR test performed within 72 hours, and a traveler’s health declaration form to their airline before boarding (the airline will distribute the form).

Land and sea borders are closed to non-residents, unless en route to fly home. In that case, travelers must get authorization in advance, present a note from their own embassy or consulate authorizing their crossing at the border, show the plane ticket and go straight to the airport.

There is no quarantine on arrival. Even quarantine for those with symptoms is voluntary.

Dire. Throughout the pandemic, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has criticized the use of masks and threatened governors who adopt lockdown measures, and as of July 5 the country has had over 18.7 million cases, and over 524,400 deaths.

Hospitals have been struggling. Intubation, medication and oxygen have repeatedly run low at points during the pandemic.

Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state in the Amazon region, has been hit hard, with hospitals here running out of oxygen in January. The Gamma Covid variant is thought to have emerged here, after it had been thought that the area might even have been approaching herd immunity.

On April 6, Brazil recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic so far, with health ministry data reporting more than 4,000 deaths in a single day. That was outstripped two days later, with 4,249 deaths registered on April 8.

In some cities, including Rio de Janeiro, deaths have been outpacing births.

The week of April 13, intensive care units (ICUs) in all at but three of Brazil’s states and federal districts were at over 80% occupancy.

Covid-19 has reportedly caused one in three deaths in Brazil so far this year.

On June 18 alone Brazil accounted for nearly one-third of all Covid-19 deaths worldwide, according to Our World in Data – a figure that experts warn is quickly rising. On June 19, Brazil’s death rate passed half a million.

12.79% of Brazil’s population has been fully vaccinated as of July 5.

Daily reported Covid-19 cases

The Brazilian government has done little to limit the spread nationally, but individual states have introduced measures. There have been local lockdown restrictions in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Minas Gerais all opposed by Bolsonaro but introduced by local authorities.

In fact, Bolsonaro’s administration filed a suit in Brazil’s Supreme Court declaring that only the federal government has the right to impose such restrictions. The court sided with the states, however, calling Bolsonaro’s argument “totalitarian.”

Restrictions continue to vary in each area.

In April, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro eased recent lockdowns. São Paulo authorities justified the reopening by pointing out that occupancy rates in intensive care units in the state fell from a crisis-level 90.5% to 88.6%. In a press conference, Mayor Eduardo Paes said “our reality does not allow lockdown.”

Paes added that shop owners and the general population suffer economically from such measures. Still, he said, “This is no time to relax.”

Data suggests local lockdown measures imposed by state governors and city mayors in March and April are working to slow the pandemic’s recent resurgence.

The daily death rate fell from its peak of more than 4,000 in early April to 889 on May 10. It’s at 830 as of July 5.

On June 23, Brazil recorded 115,228 new Covid cases, a record high for the country.

There are also growing concerns in Brazil about the potential spread of the Delta Covid-19 variant first identified in India.

On May 25, São Paulo authorities announced that any passengers coming through the city’s Tietê bus station with symptoms will be sent to hospital facilities for Covid testing.

Travelers at the city’s Guarulhos airport, Brazil’s busiest, could also see rapid testing implemented.

There are continuing clamors for a national lockdown, with over 500 prominent Brazilian bankers, economists and politicians publishing an open letter in the country’s biggest newspapers asking the federal government to rethink its approach to the pandemic. In March, former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva advocated for lockdown while speaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

The United Nations office in Brazil has also asked for the country to impose movement restrictions, warning that an accelerating death rate and absence of a national coordinated plan are “leading the country to a catastrophe.”

Bolsonaro continues to be vocally adamant against a national lockdown and Brazil’s Senate recently launched an inquiry into the federal government’s response to Covid-19.

On Saturday May 30, tens of thousands protested in Brazilian cities including São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, demanding Bolsonaro’s impeachment and better vaccine access. There were further protests on June 19.

Bolsonaro recently said he regretted the country’s Covid-19 deaths, but that he still intended Brazil to host the Copa América soccer tournament.

Brazilian national team players and staff published a letter on their social media accounts on June 9, criticizing the organization of the Copa América tournament, but assuring they would still participate should the tournament go ahead.

The soccer tournament began in Brazil on June 13. On June 21, the country’s health ministry reported 140 Covid-19 cases confirmed among Copa América teams and service providers.

Ministry of Health Covid-19 app

Brazilian Government

Brazil is among the countries welcoming American tourists back. The country is also welcoming many international tourists too. Read how the Christ Redeemer statue and Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio reopened to visitors last August. And read the story of Brazil’s national spirit, cachaça, here.

CNN’s Julia Buckley, Francesca Street, Rodrigo Pedroso, Marcia Reverdosa, Matt Rivers, Caitlin Hu, Fernanda Wenzel, Sarah Faidell and Juliana Koch contributed to this report


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