Battle over 'divisive' vaccine passports erupts in Rio de Janeiro

Visitors display vaccine verification at the entrance to the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro.

Sao Paulo (CNN)So-called "vaccine passports" have been reinstated in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, just one day after a local judge suspended them for being too divisive.

At the request of the city government, Brazil's Supreme Court on Thursday annulled a ruling by Judge Paulo Rangel that had briefly prohibited requiring of proof of vaccination to enter certain public venues.
Residents will again be required to prove they've been vaccinated in order to attend events and enter communal facilities such as gyms, museums and tourist venues.
    Rangel had described the requirement as "tyrannical."
      "The decree [to implement vaccine passports] divides society into two types: the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, preventing the unvaccinated from circulating freely," Rangel said.
        Over half a million Brazilians have died in the pandemic -- the highest death toll in the world after the United States. Today, some form of vaccine passport is in place in more than 200 other towns and cities across Brazil, including in the country's biggest city, Sao Paulo. Each regional authority decides on its own regulations.
        Rio's vaccine pass system was introduced in mid-September under Mayor Eduardo Paes. Without mentioning the suspension directly, Paes tweeted: "Sometimes I wonder how some people can accept that smoking is banned in the office, mall, subway... and also accept that the use of seat belts is mandatory! Do these people not feel restricted in their individual freedoms? Just to reflect...."
          But Rangel is hardly alone in his doubts about the system. President Jair Bolsonaro -- who has long downplayed the severity of Covid-19 -- has battled such precautions and openly criticized the idea of a vaccine passport.
            Bolsonaro personally flouted vaccination rules at the United Nations headquarters in New York earlier this month, addressing the global body in person despite not having received the vaccine.
            "Why do you take a vaccine? To have antibodies, right? My antibodies rate is really high. I can show you the document," said the president, who recovered from Covid-19 last year.