Clélio Meneses justified the ban on Carnival festivities in the Azores with the need to “not promote gatherings or behaviours” that prevent the “progressive relief” of the restrictions imposed in the region to control the pandemic.

He defended that the “pandemic is coming to an end”, estimating that at the “end of February and beginning of March” there will be a “decrease in cases”, leading to a “consequent relief of measures”.

“Now, because of a weekend, with the intensity of contacts and gatherings that are, naturally, sources of greater contagion, we could delay and retreat in this process that we all want to evolve as quickly as possible”, he said, referring to Carnival.

Clélio Meneses also considered that the region is “living a different phase of the pandemic”, because the Omicron variant, which is “overwhelmingly dominant” in the Azores, is “much more transmissible”, but “much less severe” than the Delta variant.

The Secretary of Health highlighted that 45% of the population has a booster dose of the vaccine against covid-19 and that 80% of people over 65 in the region have already received this booster.