June 1, 2020 / 6:16 PM / a month ago

Brazil's Rio to begin reopening on Tuesday

RIO DE JANEIRO/SAO PAULO, June 1 (Reuters) - The city of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest in Brazil, will allow several types of businesses to reopen on Tuesday, according to a plan released by the municipal government on Monday in a move cheered by various business sectors.

Under the plan, restaurants, shops and certain establishments related to tourism, leisure and culture will be able to open in a restricted capacity or expand the limited services they are allowed to provide under the city's current quarantine orders.

The government of the city of roughly 6.8 million people described the plan as the first step out of six for the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

The city has reported 3,578 confirmed COVID-19 deaths as of Sunday, and public health services are at their limit. However, calls to loosen restrictions on businesses have grown in recent weeks, and Rio state and city officials have warned that it could be difficult to pay salaries in coming months.

The mayor, Marcelo Crivella, has said in comments to local media in recent weeks that he hopes to return to near normal levels of commercial activity by the middle of August. He has also said, however, that additional reopening steps will depend on meeting certain epidemiological goals.

Brazil's benchmark Bovespa equities index was up 1.6% in afternoon trade, with retail and travel stocks among the biggest gainers. Traders told Reuters various reopening orders announced in cities and states throughout Brazil in recent weeks were buoying those sectors, with Rio now contributing to the positive sentiment.

Among the biggest winners was airline Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA, whose Brazil-listed preferred shares were up 8.2% in afternoon trade. (Reporting by Gram Slattery and Paula Laier; Editing by Tom Brown)

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