Bolsonaro fined for breaking Covid-19 restrictions in Brazil

Bolsonaro greets a crowd during a non-scheduled visit to the city of Senador La Rocque, in Maranhao state, on May 21, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - President Jair Bolsonaro must pay a fine for failing to adhere to state health safety regulations at a public event, the governor of Maranhao state said, as Brazil struggles to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

Health authorities filed the case against Bolsonaro "for the promotion in Maranhao of gatherings with no sanitary safeguards".

"The law applies to everyone," the governor of the northeastern state, leftist Flavio Dino, tweeted late on Friday (May 21).

Dino reminded the public that gatherings of more than 100 people are banned in his state, and the use of face masks is mandatory.

Bolsonaro's office has 15 days to appeal, after which the amount of the fine will be set.

The office did not answer requests for comment from AFP.

On Friday, Bolsonaro handed out rural property titles in Acailandia, some 500 kilometres from Sao Luis, capital of Maranhao state.

At the event, the maskless Bolsonaro blasted Governor Dino as a "chubby dictator."

The far-right Brazilian president opposes Covid confinement rules, and has attacked state governors who impose local health restrictions as "dictators."

Brazil has the world's second highest coronavirus death toll, after the United States.

The first case in Brazil of a variant first detected in India was confirmed on Thursday in Maranhao - one of the country's poorest states - among six crew members of a cargo ship registered in Hong Kong.

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