World-famous beach emptied by coronavirus

Covid-19 has emptied Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports on the deserted seafront.

Posted: Jun 2, 2020 1:01 PM
Updated: Jun 2, 2020 1:01 PM

Miguel Oliveira firmly pushes down on the limes and sugar in the cocktail shaker, for the first time that day. It's noon, and this, together with the sparsely-populated promenade his kiosk bar sits on, is just one sign that something is wrong in Rio de Janeiro.

"It's never been this bad," he sighs. "We're open to see if we can sell something -- being closed is worse." He doubts business will get better any time soon, the only bright spot being that "at least the rent is postponed till next year."

Copacabana beach. If you've never been, you probably want to. If you know it, wherever you are in the world right now, you probably fancy a day there now. But the world's best known beach, has slammed into its best known virus.

Four years ago, I last saw the beach teeming at the heart of Rio's Olympic dream. Bars were unable to find you a seat; every inch of the seafront was overbooked; swimwear and a disregard for time or worry was obligatory. Even the heavy police presence didn't stop the dance.

Now, the beach is closed. Face masks are mandatory. The shops, restaurants, bars -- and most of the beachfront kiosks, except Miguel's -- are closed. Covid-19 has brought out the cops in Copacabana. Even the music is silent, replaced by police sirens, warning reluctant locals to get off the beach.

The Maritime Firemen brigade -- a mix of firefighters and lifeguards -- drive the length of the beach slowly, their speakers blaring out the demand people leave the sands. Lt. Col. Fernando Melo said the majority of people adhere to the beach closure, but consistently one or two figures stroll or gather on the shoreline, oblivious to why the sands are so abnormally empty.

"At the start, when people didn't believe corona, we had gatherings at the kiosks, parties at night," Melo said. "The schools were closed so people would come to the sand with their kids."

Now it's better -- but the joggers, walkers and dogs all line the sidewalk. One group is missing, however: tourists. Foreigners are barred entry into Brazil temporarily. (CNN was granted entry by the Brazilian Foreign Ministry to report).

Locals are finding it is hard to run in a mask. On his daily jog, Ronaldo Nussbaum is maskless. He said he has asthma, and needs to get the air. "Some days they have a lot of people, but today it's OK."

Nussbaum is one of a majority of Brazilians who voted for President Jair Bolsonaro, who has called the virus a little flu and described locally imposed lockdowns in cities like Rio and São Paulo as a "terrible disgrace."

"He said a lot of things that I don't like. But I just voted for him. My mother she loves him. He can (say) bad words, but I can't," he laughed.

Nussbaum reflects a shifting public opinion of the president, who recent polls have shown now has a 50% disapproval rating. I ask if he will vote again for him? "I'm not sure," he said.

At times, volleyball matches continue unabated. Runners and surfers carry on. The police ride ATVs on the sand, waving people off, but they swiftly return. On the sand, and in the occasionally deserted streets, the homeless stand out: loud and lonely in this new landscape. The Belmont Hotel, iconic on this beachfront, has closed for the first time in 97 years.

The very rhythm that defines Copacabana has stopped, and the fear growing here -- among businesses, and even those locals briefly enjoying the space -- is when and if it will return again, and whether it will be the same joyous pace as before.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 661673

Reported Deaths: 12573
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion906391639
Lake48389876
Allen35806635
Hamilton32056396
St. Joseph29947512
Elkhart25376414
Vanderburgh21245378
Tippecanoe20000201
Johnson16336359
Porter15957270
Hendricks15813300
Clark11946181
Madison11741316
Vigo11595229
Monroe10328161
Delaware9836179
LaPorte9761196
Howard9055197
Kosciusko8561109
Bartholomew7448147
Warrick7412150
Hancock7404131
Floyd7200169
Wayne6631191
Grant6424157
Morgan6084125
Boone608288
Dubois5903111
Dearborn547067
Cass544399
Marshall5423104
Henry542093
Noble509078
Jackson464566
Shelby460290
Lawrence4180112
Gibson401281
Harrison399663
Clinton395453
Montgomery386783
DeKalb385178
Knox357285
Miami357263
Whitley349136
Huntington343976
Steuben338155
Wabash331176
Putnam329759
Ripley327061
Adams323149
Jasper315943
White297352
Jefferson294873
Daviess285396
Fayette271556
Decatur270888
Greene261280
Posey260831
Wells258274
Scott250350
Clay241044
LaGrange240870
Randolph225576
Spencer217130
Jennings215044
Washington211027
Sullivan203239
Fountain201442
Starke188051
Owen182153
Fulton178237
Jay177728
Carroll176518
Perry173235
Orange171250
Rush164722
Vermillion160442
Franklin159435
Tipton146341
Parke139216
Pike127632
Blackford120627
Pulaski106444
Newton96531
Brown94939
Benton91913
Crawford90613
Martin80114
Warren75814
Switzerland7537
Union67110
Ohio53311
Unassigned0431

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 967422

Reported Deaths: 17297
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1118511208
Cuyahoga954841746
Hamilton73202970
Montgomery47226889
Summit40110957
Butler35435471
Lucas35217765
Stark29301840
Warren22361276
Lorain21952389
Mahoning19402543
Lake18358305
Clermont18327211
Delaware16415135
Licking14939200
Fairfield14491159
Trumbull14283462
Greene13548213
Medina13347219
Clark12223336
Wood11492193
Portage10982160
Allen10762235
Richland10250206
Miami10006190
Muskingum8153130
Columbiana8103182
Pickaway8033101
Tuscarawas8016236
Marion7979137
Wayne7848219
Erie6858184
Ross6123136
Geauga6051128
Hancock5979112
Ashtabula5937145
Scioto5920104
Lawrence523174
Union511252
Darke5025124
Belmont490989
Huron4781117
Jefferson4781108
Sandusky475996
Seneca4652103
Athens463133
Washington460587
Mercer4581101
Auglaize455099
Shelby440769
Knox401186
Putnam3984101
Madison391447
Ashland378495
Fulton377964
Defiance3711102
Brown369042
Crawford356696
Logan353259
Preble352571
Clinton339964
Highland327356
Ottawa322767
Williams301878
Jackson289256
Champaign285846
Guernsey285834
Fayette267844
Perry267543
Morrow259125
Henry245565
Hardin243957
Holmes2430104
Coshocton234547
Van Wert228849
Gallia221346
Adams215532
Pike214928
Wyandot209153
Hocking193549
Carroll180328
Paulding159723
Meigs134837
Noble128542
Monroe116136
Morgan100534
Harrison100432
Vinton76615
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
19° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 17°
Feels Like: 12°
Angola
Clear
14° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 14°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
19° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 18°
Feels Like: 19°
Fort Wayne
Clear
19° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 12°
Lima
Partly Cloudy
20° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 12°
Breezy, Sunny Tuesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events