While New York had allowed unvaccinated heads of state to stay in the city ahead of the United Nations General Assembly, they are not exempt from the city's local COVID-19 policies. This included Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro and his cabinet, who were forced to eat their pizza on the sidewalk instead of inside the restaurant.

Under current rules, restaurants in New York are barred from allowing anyone without proof of vaccination from dining inside. This applies to both regular citizens and presidents.

During his first night in the city on Sunday, the Brazilian president had to settle for a pizza on the sidewalk after failing to present a vaccination card. The far-right populist is a known vaccine skeptic who had made his stance public in the past. Before he arrived in the city, he told reporters that his immune system was strong enough to defend against the virus.


Bolsonaro has repeatedly declined to be vaccinated even as Brazil began to roll out doses to the public. In December, Bolsonaro said that it was his life and no one could force him to get a shot. He also made it clear that the Brazilian government would not force anyone to get inoculated either.

"I'm not going to take the vaccine, period. You think my life is at risk? That's my problem. Period," Bolsonaro said in a previous interview.

His anti-vaccine stance and the fact that he boasts about not being vaccinated have sparked criticism. His opposition to imposing restrictions in Brazil has also been met with international condemnation.

Days before the assembly, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has been urging world leaders to get vaccinated. He specifically singled out Bolsonaro and asked him to get vaccinated before attending the UN gathering.

"If you don't want to be vaccinated, don't bother coming," de Blasio during a news conference.

UN General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid said last week that world leaders will not be required to show proof of vaccination. However, an honor system will remain in place for participants.

Bolsonaro is scheduled to address the annual U.N. General Assembly Tuesday. Several leaders have opted not to attend the gathering personally this year, with most sending video statements instead because of the pandemic.