Brazil judge mandates proof of vaccination for foreign visitors

A Supreme Court justice in Brazil has ruled that all travellers arriving in the country must show proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

The decision from Luis Roberto Barroso on Saturday challenges a more lenient rule announced by the government of President Jair Bolsonaro, who has opposed mandatory immunisation against the virus that can cause COVID-19.

Barroso’s ruling must be reviewed by all 11 judges of the Supreme Court next week.

The federal government announced on Tuesday that travellers arriving in Brazil did not have to produce a vaccine passport, though they would have to undergo a five-day quarantine.

The government later delayed the regulation for a week, due to a hacker attack on the Health Ministry on Friday.

In ruling on a petition filed by the Sustainability Network party, Barroso said monitoring the quarantine of thousands of travellers would be too difficult and would put Brazilians at risk.

“The threat of promoting anti-vaccine tourism, due to the imprecision of the regulations that require the voucher, represents an imminent risk,” Barroso said in the ruling.

The justice said the requirement for proof of vaccination could be waived only when the traveller comes from a country where no vaccines are available or the individual was prevented from vaccination due to health reasons.

Brazil’s president has argued that those backing the use of vaccine passports want to restrict the freedoms of the population.

“Where is our freedom? I’d rather die than lose my freedom,” Bolsonaro said on Tuesday.

More than 616,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Brazil, the country with the second most deaths from the disease.

The pandemic has waned in recent months and the nation’s seven-day average is approaching 200 deaths a day. But many of Brazil’s major cities, including Rio de Janeiro, have either cancelled or scaled back their New Year’s Eve festivities due to fears of a new outbreak of the virus.

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