Previously scheduled to be held in February, Brazil‘s carnival has been postponed to April in Rio and São Paulo said the cities’ authorities.

The reason for the delay is the surge of coronavirus cases in Brazil as the omicron variant spreads across major cities such as Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Salvador.

“We realized the spike of Covid cases in the city, but we are optimistic that the new strain (Omicron) cases will decrease by April. We respect science and we understand that it is prudent to postpone the Carnival”, said Rio de Janeiro’s Mayor Eduardo Paes. The Samba Parade in Rio is scheduled to be held between April 20th and April 24th.

Rio’s City Hall has yet to announce a decision about the street parties that also take place across the city during carnival. According to Paes, the decision of allowing those parties is more complicated because these events usually gather hundreds of thousands of people, which makes it harder to control the crowd to enforce Covid procedures and safety requirements such as the use of face masks, vaccination card, and physical distance of 6 feet.

In Salvador, another Brazilian city that attracts millions of people for the celebration, the Carnival events were also canceled and the mayor hasn’t scheduled a new date yet, according to Salvador authorities.

Brazil’s Carnival is the main celebration in the country, which earned the distinction of being “The Greatest Show on Earth.” It starts on Friday and goes until Tuesday, or just a day shy of Ash Wednesday— a significant Catholic tradition that signals the start of Lent.

Every year, thousands of spectators flock to Samba Stadium to watch the annual spectacle of samba-school floats, dancers, and luxury costumes during Carnival. Even more, people take part in the streets, dancing and drinking into the wee hours of the night.

In 2020, the number of tourists visiting the city of Rio de Janeiro for the Brazilian Carnival surpassed the two million mark, according to Rio’s official data.

However, in 2021, the party was cancelled due to the pandemic that severely hit Brazil. Over 600,000 people died of COVID-19 between June 2020 and December 2021.