Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro escorted thousands of motorcyclists through the streets of Sao Paulo and eventually was fined for failing to wear a mask in violation of municipal pandemic laws, the government of the state announced on Saturday.
According to the statement of the state government of Sao Paulo, a fine of roughly $110 will be issued for violating a provision that has required masks in public areas since May 2020. According to local government data, about 12,000 motorbikes attended the pro-Bolsonaro rally.
Tarcísio Gomes, the country's minister of infrastructure, was fined along with the president. In addition to them, the ministers of the environment, Ricardo Salles, and of science and technology, Marcos Pontes, and five other deputies who participated in the demonstrations were penalized for not donning masks at the public event, according to a separate statement.
Associated Press reported that Bolsonaro waved to the crowd from his motorcycle and later from atop a sound truck, where helmeted but mostly maskless supporters cheered and chanted as he insisted that masks were useless for those who had already been vaccinated, a claim that most public health experts disagree with.
The bikers reportedly made their way out of the city and back, eventually arriving at Ibirapuera Park, where the president climbed atop a car to promote his stance on the uselessness of masks for those who received the vaccine.
"Whoever is against this proposal is because they don’t believe in science, because if they are vaccinated, there is no way the virus can be transmitted," Bolsonaro claimed.
According to the report, citing the country's ministry of health, only about 12% of the Brazilian population has gotten both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and many Brazilian specialists believe masks can only be phased out if the majority of the population has been vaccinated.
The World Health Organization estimated that as of June 3 more than 65.8 million doses have been administered in the country, although without specifying what portion of this number consists of those who have received just the first dose and those with a complete two-component vaccination. Brazil's population stands at over 210 million.