LatinNews Daily - 13 December 2021

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BRAZIL: Supreme court weighs in on vaccine passports

On 11 December, Luís Roberto Barroso, a justice in Brazil’s supreme court (STF), determined that the federal government must require incoming international travellers to show proof of vaccination against the coronavirus (Covid-19) to enter Brazil. 


With the federal government led by President Jair Bolsonaro remaining fiercely opposed to Covid-19 vaccine mandates in theory, and dithering about introducing them in practice, it was only a matter of time before the issue reached the supreme court. The STF has frequently weighed in on issues concerning the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic, for example ruling last year that state and municipal authorities could impose sanctions on individuals who refused to get vaccinated. 

  • The question of whether international arrivals to Brazil should be asked for proof of vaccination against Covid-19 has been dragging on since the federal healthcare regulator (Anvisa) recommended this measure in November. The Bolsonaro government is vocally opposed to vaccine passports but faced growing pressure to introduce them.
  • The government partially gave in last week, announcing on 7 December that unvaccinated travellers arriving in Brazil would be required to quarantine for five days then take a PCR test. However, the implementation of this measure was delayed after the government’s healthcare system suffered a cyber-attack, confirmed on 10 December, which affected the national health system (SUS)’s online services and the database of the national vaccination programme (PNI). 
  • Justice Barroso issued his ruling a day later, in response to a complaint filed by the opposition Rede Sustentabilidade (Rede) party which requested that the government adopt all the Anvisa’s recommendations. Barroso expressed concern that Brazil’s successful vaccine rollout could be jeopardised by the arrival of unvaccinated tourists, and he stressed the urgency of the situation, given relaxed international travel and the upcoming end-of-year and Carnival festivities. Barroso said that the government’s 7 December decree was an insufficient measure as the text “presents ambiguities and inaccuracies that can give rise to divergent interpretations”

Looking Ahead: Barroso’s preliminary ruling is due to be voted on by the STF plenary on 15 December. The federal government has already said it will issue a new decree abiding by Barroso’s order.   

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