Bolsonaro at a press conference on coronavirus in Brazil Photograph:( AFP )
Bolsonaro has been maintaining his controversial stance of reopening the businesses to keep the economy running, even as the Latin American country continues to witness a rise in the number of coronavirus cases and related death toll.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has declared gyms and hair salons as essential services that can stay open through the new coronavirus outbreak, easing measures to control the disease despite new cases and deaths surging in the country.
Brazil has reported nearly 170,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and over 11,600 deaths and is closing in on the number of cases recorded in Germany and France, where the outbreak has been slowing.
The president has argued that state and municipal governments have gone overboard in social isolation measures to restrict the disease’s spread and that it is overly damaging to the economy.
''The question of life has to be taken in parallel with jobs,'' Bolsonaro told reporters outside his official residence.
''Without the economy there is no life, there are no doctors, there are no hospital supplies.''
Bolsonaro’s latest decree allowing more establishments to stay open comes as Brazil registered 5,632 new coronavirus cases on Monday and 396 deaths from the disease, according to the Health Ministry.
After initially decreeing that establishments such as pharmacies and grocery stores were essential, Bolsonaro later expanded that list to include lotteries and churches.
This third decree expands the list of essential business further, also extending it to industrial production and civil construction, with Bolsonaro promising even more easing to come.
Health Minister Nelson Teich told a briefing on Monday that the ministry had not been consulted about Bolsonaro’s decision to allow gyms and beauty salons to reopen.
The ministry also said in a statement that it had issued guidelines to state and municipal authorities on the range of social distancing standards, from strict to loose, saying the ultimate decisions rests with local governments.
“It is local health authorities’ responsibility to adopt or loosen non-pharmalogical measures,” it said.
Bolsonaro has been condemned by health experts for maintaining his controversial stance of reopening the businesses to keep the economy running.