March 23, 2020 / 10:57 PM / 17 days ago

UPDATE 1-'Essential' gunmaker Taurus stays open as coronavirus shutters Brazil

(Adds details from filing, context)

By Alberto Alerigi and Marcelo Rochabrun

SAO PAULO, March 23 (Reuters) - Brazilian gunmaker Taurus SA said on Monday it would continue manufacturing firearms after the government decided its functions are "essential," even as the country shuts down to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Taurus, whose weapons are used by police officers across Brazil and sold in the U.S. market, said in a filing that the government had classified it as a Strategic Defense Company.

Shares in the gun manufacturer have benefited from far-right President Jair Bolsonaro's law-and-order politics and efforts to broaden gun ownership in Latin America's largest economy. Still, gun ownership in Brazil remains restricted.

Many of Brazil's larger businesses, including shopping malls, airlines and automakers, have significantly reduced operations in light of the coronavirus outbreak, citing concern for workers' health and weaker consumer demand.

Taurus said it would adopt measures to ensure that its workers are not exposed to the coronavirus. (Reporting by Alberto Alerigi and Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Sandra Maler and Richard Chang)

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