Brazil's Bolsonaro dilutes face mask law again


Brasília (AFP)

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro on Monday made more changes to weaken a law requiring the wearing of face masks in public places in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

On Friday, the far right president had already watered down the bill by vetoing several articles, including ones requiring employers to supply face masks for their staff and another mandating that public authorities should provide face coverings for "economically vulnerable people."

Now he has also vetoed articles requiring masks be worn in prisons and another obliging businesses to provide information on how to wear masks properly.

Some states have already made the wearing of masks mandatory, but this was the first such law on a national level.

Since the beginning of the virus outbreak, Bolsonaro has minimized the risks of what he initially called "a little flu" and flouted social distancing rules and containment measures, such as wearing a mask in public.

Brazil is the second worst-hit country in the world in the pandemic, with almost 65,000 deaths and more than 1.6 million cases.

On Saturday, Bolsonaro published photos on social media in which he is seen without a face mask at a lunch with the US ambassador and several ministers celebrating the US independence day.

Since he was in a private residence he did not break the new law -- but that didn't spare him an avalanche of criticism on social media for not providing a good example.