Rio to reopen stadiums to fans in September

Maracana stadium

© APA | Maracana stadium

# 30 July 2021 06:27 (UTC +04:00)

Football stadiums in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro - including the iconic Maracana stadium - will reopen to fans at 50% capacity in September, mayor Eduardo Paes said on Thursday, APA reports citing Xinhua.

Spectators must be fully vaccinated and will be obliged to wear masks while observing social distancing rules, Paes said.

The measure forms part of the city's COVID-19 flexibilization plan, which envisions stadiums reopening at full capacity on October 17.

"If the health secretary comes to me and says that it is not possible because [infection rates] have increased or a new variant has arrived, we will immediately interrupt any opening process and can impose new restrictive measures," Paes said.

"Everything indicates at this moment, in regards to hospitalizations and deaths, that we are seeing an improvement. It's not an ideal time yet, so the restrictions continue and the opening is gradual."

Fans have mostly been banned from football stadiums in Rio since March last year when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

Exceptions were made for the Copa Libertadores final in January and this month's Copa America final. On both occasions, the 78,000-seat Maracana was opened at around 10 percent capacity.

According to official figures, Brazil has had over 19.8 million positive COVID-19 cases and more than 554,000 deaths