Retail shops reopened Wednesday after a two-month pandemic shutdown in Brazil's biggest city, leading to crowded buses and subways from early in the day — and with many people ignoring social distancing rules.
Sao Paulo Mayor Bruno Covas authorized the restart of commerce between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. as long as shops required customers to use masks and limit the number allowed inside. Stores in malls were to remain closed until Thursday.
Brazil is among the Latin American countries hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, with about 38,000 deaths. Sao Paulo state is approaching 10,000 COVID-19 deaths, about half of which took place in the metropolis of 12 million residents.
On Wednesday, the state reported a record 24-hour death toll increase of 340 people, surpassing a record set the previous day.
Sao Paulo city has seen a slight decrease in its intensive care unit bed occupancy rate, to around 70%. But many health specialists advised against the reopening, saying contagion is still growing in the city, though at a slower rate.