Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's top tourism destination, on Tuesday announced the cancelation of the city's traditional carnival-time street parades due to surging COVID-19 cases.
In a live broadcast on social media platforms, Mayor Eduardo Paes said the decision was made after meeting with representatives of the city's carnival "blocos," or neighborhood street bands, that perform for the crowds during the annual celebrations.
"The representatives of the blocos were informed that, unfortunately, we will not be able to hold a street carnival like the one held in 2020," said Paes, citing a spike in COVID-19 cases.
This year's carnival was due to take place from Feb. 25 to March 2, with more than 500 blocos planning to give performance.
The street parades during the carnival are different from the better known procession by Rio's samba schools that take place at the city's Sambadrome, a special venue built for the carnival.
According to the mayor, the Sambadrome performance will go ahead as planned, as the stadium-like venue allows authorities to take health precautions.
The Rio Carnival is considered the largest open-air party in the world, drawing millions of people every year who come to enjoy the street music of the blocos over several days before the main event at the Sambadrome, which can seat about 60,000 spectators.