By Andrew Willis, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Municipal authorities in Brazil have responded to the tragic fire that killed over 230 partygoers in a nightclub in Brazil’s southern state of Rio Grande do Sul last month by conducting a wave of license and safety checks across the country. In the week that followed the blaze, over 120 venues were closed in the state of Rio de Janeiro alone due to irregularities.
Another fifty commercial premises received fines but remained open, while a further twenty were receiving warnings, the Rio de Janeiro state Fire Brigade said in a statement on Friday, February 1st.
Emergency lighting also failed to come on and it was later discovered that the club’s operating license had expired several months previously. As a result, fire code and safety checks have been stepped up since the tragedy.
“We never had targets [for inspections in the past]. Now we understand that this is necessary. We are establishing targets that must be met. Inspections are vitally important for the prevention of fires,” said Colonel Sergio Simoes, the commanding general of Rio de Janeiro’s Fire Brigade.
In the city of Rio, currently packed with revelers from all over the world in the lead up to Carnival, several well-known bars and clubs were prevented from operating during a city-wide sweep by inspectors last week. Doors were closed at many popular nightclubs, including; 00 (zero-zero), Alto Lapa, Casa da Matriz, Fosfobox, Nuth, Teatro Odisséia and Le Boy. Several clubs were also reportedly partially closed, such as; Baronneti, Londra and Barzin.
Many well known live music venues popular for samba shows were also closed, including; Centro Cultura Carioca, Casa Rosa and Carioca de Gema (partially closed). Several bars were also closed, including Bar Bukowski and Mud Bug.
“Fosfobox was fairly underground, attracting a youngish crowd that liked electro music. It reminded me of places you find in London’s Shoreditch area,” Francois Bellicardi, a French expatriate living in Rio, said after hearing the news.
“Let’s see how long it’s closed for though,” he added. “Frequently these places make the necessary changes and reopen quite quickly.”
The crackdown is causing considerable frustration among business owners, especially those who feel they have remained within the law.
“It is sad that business owners here are being punished for a tragedy that happened in one place in the south. The authorities are making sure they are all over the news being vigilant on security when perhaps they should just be doing their job as usual,” the owner said, on condition of anonymity.
While municipal authorities currently award licenses and carry out safety checks of commercial premises in Brazil, federal legislators have now opened up the possibility of minimum nationwide rules in this area in a bid to boost safety standards.
Following is a list of the reportedly closed establishments so far, based on local media. In addition to privately owned businesses, many public theaters and museums have also been temporarily closed:
Clubs and Bars
Centro Cultura Carioca
Casa de Festas Infantil Alakazan
Casa da Matriz
Partially closed Clubs and Bars (only allowed to open as bars/restaurants)
Carioca da Gema
Blue Agave (no live music)
Bar do Copa
Esquina Teatro Bar
Teatro Municipal Carlos Gomes
Teatro Municipal Gonzaguinha
Teatro Municipal Café Pequeno
Espaço Cultural Municipal Sérgio Porto
Teatro Municipal Ziembinsky
Teatro Municipal Maria Clara Machado
Teatro Municipal do Jockey
Sala Municipal Baden Powell
Teatro Municipal de Marionetes Carlos Werneck
Museu da Imagem e do Som
Museu Carmen Miranda
Museu do Ingá
Memorial Getúlio Vargas
Biblioteca Popular de Botafogo – Machado De Assis
Biblioteca Popular de Campo Grande – Manuel Ignácio Da Silva Alvarenga
Biblioteca Popular da Ilha Do Governador – Euclides Da Cunha
Biblioteca Popular da Maré – Jorge Amado
Biblioteca Popular de Irajá – João do Rio
Biblioteca Popular de Jacarepaguá – Cecília Meireles
Biblioteca Popular de Santa Teresa – José De Alencar
Biblioteca Popular da Tijuca – Marques Rebelo
Biblioteca Abgar Renault