- Shopping malls in Rio de Janeiro will stay open 24 hours a day through Christmas.
- Authorities are hoping this will avoid overcrowding amidst a second wave of coronavirus.
- Brazil has the second-highest death toll in the pandemic, with more than 175 000 people killed.
Rio de Janeiro's shopping malls will stay open 24 hours a day through Christmas, authorities announced Friday, hoping to avoid overcrowding amidst a second wave of coronavirus.
The move goes against the recommendations of scientists who are advocating new restrictions in the Brazilian city, given a worrying increase in Covid-19 deaths and infections.
Brazil has the second-highest death toll in the pandemic, after the United States, with more than 175,000 people killed.
More than 23,000 of the deaths occurred in Rio state, where the mortality rate linked to the virus is the highest in the country.
Rio city council's scientific committee this week recommended beaches be shut down and bar and restaurant trading hours reduced.
Rio's mayor Marcelo Crivella said keeping shopping malls open at all hours would ease the Christmas crush.
"With shopping centers open 24 hours a day, the population will not need to rush to them," Crivella told a press conference.
The measure will come into effect on Saturday and remain in force throughout December, the mayor said on Twitter.
The only restrictions announced are the closure of municipal schools only weeks after they reopened.
The mayor's office and the Rio state government have also announced an increase in hospital capacity with intensive care occupancy rates at over 90 percent for the past week.
Infectious disease specialist Celso Ferreira Ramos Filho, head of the Society of Medicine in Rio, said the measures are "questionable".
"We really think that the shopping centers will remain open in the middle of the night, with few customers and more energy and staff costs? It won't have any real affect," said Ramos Filho, who is also a member of the city council's scientific committee.
"That said, anything that can reduce gatherings is welcome," he said.
Apart from the compulsory use of masks in public places, life has returned almost to normal in Rio, with crowded beaches and bars at weekends.
Non-essential businesses remained closed for several months from March, before gradually reopening in June.
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