- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 23, 2020

A federal judge in Brazil on Monday ordered President Jair Bolsonaro to wear a protective face mask while he is in public.

The far-right Brazilian leader has repeatedly downplayed the coronavirus outbreak in his country and has appeared in public several times without a mask while mingling with supporters, the BBC reported.

He said Monday that the response to the outbreak had “maybe been a bit over the top,” and that restrictions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, should not be more harmful than the virus.

Judge Renato Borelli ruled that if public officials, including the president, do not comply with existing precautions to wear a mask in public, they would be fined 2,000 reais, or $387, per day, according to a readout of the hearing published by a Brazilian newspaper.

“The president of the republic must take all necessary measures to avoid the transmission of Covid-19 — be that in order to protect his own health or that of those around him,” the judge ruled, translated from Portuguese.

The president has been filmed coughing without covering his mouth at a political rally, and, on a separate occasion, the publication reported that he was seen sneezing into his hand and shaking the hand of an elderly person shortly after.

Brazil has emerged as an epicenter of the outbreak and has reported over 1.1 million cases of COVID-19, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.

With a population of 209.5 million, Brazil has reported the second-highest death toll behind the U.S. at 51,271, and 601,741 recoveries.

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