RIO DE JANEIRO — South American countries on Monday began easing COVID-19 restrictions even as the region hurtles toward its viral peak, disregarding the example set by European nations that were battered earlier by the virus.
Some of Brazil’s hardest hit cities, including the jungle metropolis Manaus and coastal Rio de Janeiro, are starting to allow more activity. Bolivia’s government authorized reopening most of the country and the government of Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro unwound restrictions. Ecuador’s airports were resuming flights and shoppers returning to some of Colombia’s malls.
Rolling back measures runs counter to Europe’s approach of waiting for the worst to pass before resuming activity, and South America trails much further behind on its viral curve. Even European nations that lifted restrictions earliest in their respective outbreaks – the U.K. and Russia – did so only after clearing their initial peaks.
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