Rio de Janeiro Mayor Marcelo Crivella has announced a ban on gambling at local lottery agencies. The measure took effect yesterday, aiming to avoid big crowds and queues.

The mayor stressed that bets can be made online, and that the sole goal is to prevent people from gathering at lottery agencies amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in Rio.

According to BNL Data, Crivella said that lottery agencies will continue to operate normally, “giving benefits, receiving bills, but without bets.” He added: “Our effort is based on taking balanced steps, preserving lives and essential trade activities. So we’re asking to stop betting this week.”

“A lot of people haven’t realized that they need to avoid crowds and stay home. They can go outside only to do essential jobs or meet urgent needs. By unnecessarily exposing yourself, you’re increasing the risk. Our intention is to prevent that,” he said.

Last week, the mayor assured that he will bring the Brazilian Jockey Club to justice to force them to stop operations. At the beginning of the month, the Municipal Finance Secretariat of Rio de Janeiro sent the facility a warning not to resume its activities.

The racecourse, located in Lagoa, resumed its schedule in late April and offered nine races in early May, despite a state ban. Operators were willing to allow races all week without the public being present, while bets would be made only through mobile devices or online.

The Secretary of Licenses, Inspection and Urban Control established that the activity is not considered essential, so it cannot operate until the lockdown is over.