Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, a notorious far-right vaccine skeptic, got a truly authentic New York City experience. He and Brazilian ministers and aides were forced to eat pizza on the Manhattan sidewalk.
While eating dollar slices on the street at off hours is a coming-of-age experience for the average twenty-something city, this was likely not Bolsnaro’s initial plan. Bolsnaro was forced to choose as all New York City restaurants require proof of vaccination to be allowed into indoor venues such as restaurants, gyms, concerts venues, and, most importantly, restaurants. Bolsonaro remains unvaccinated, however, insisting he still had antibodies from a Covid infection last year.
That said, at least one Brazil UN delegate has tested positive for Covid-19 since arriving in New York, according to Bloomberg.
Brazilian tourism minister Gilson Machado Neto shared a photo of Bolsonaro and crew eating what Brazilian newspaper Correio Braziliense called the official’s “first meal” in New York, captioning the image: “Let’s go for pizza with Coke.” The photograph also features Brazilian ministers for health and justice, Marcelo Queiroga and Anderson Torres, and Pedro Guimarães, the president of a government-owned financial firm. Brazil Minister Luiz Ramos also tweeted the photo, writing: “Luxury dining in NYC.”
Bolsonaro is in New York for the upcoming United Nations General Assembly meeting, which, unlike New York’s gyms and restaurants, will not require proof of vaccination. Instead, the UN has implemented an “honour system,” claiming that requiring vaccination proof is “discriminatory.” Speaking to Reuters, General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid said he “cannot tell ahead of state if he is not vaccinated that he cannot enter the United Nations.”
However, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio took a different approach, urging world leaders to get vaccinated before visiting New York and attending the meeting. “If you intend to come here, you need to be vaccinated. If you don’t want to be vaccinated, don’t bother coming,” he explicitly mentioned Bolsnaro in a press conference. “Most notably, Bolsnaro from Brazil,” He also said so.
Maybe the UN will offer pizza outside?