President Jair Bolsonaro visited a market area just outside the Brazilian capital on Sunday to press home his case for keeping Latin America's largest economy ticking instead of locking down activities to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
But Bolsonaro office's social media campaign "Brazil can't stop" was banned on Saturday by a federal judge and ran into a barrage of criticism from state governors, politicians, public health experts and even his own health minister.
The "Brazil can't stop" social media campaign, suggesting to most Brazilians that there was no need for isolating themselves at home, was banned by Judge Laura Bastos in Rio de Janeiro at the request of federal prosecutors.
The judge ruled Brazilians could not be encouraged to leave the isolation of their homes and return to the streets without there being a national plan to fight the pandemic.
Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta, often at odds with Bolsonaro since the president greeted supporters rallying outside his office on March 15, reinforced his opposition to all public gatherings on Saturday.
Mandetta asked the president during a cabinet meeting to stop minimizing the gravity of the epidemic, two government officials with knowledge of the meeting attended by other ministers told Reuters. They called the meeting tense.
Mandetta also told Bolsonaro that he could not defend the president's proposal to isolate only the old and the ill as a way of reducing the economic impact of the pandemic, the sources said.
At a news conference following the meeting, Mandetta said his measures will be guided by scientific experts and he called on people to stay at home because the health services cannot cope with a surge in cases of infected people.
He also said chloroquine, which is used to treat malaria and defended by Bolsonaro as a possible solution to the health crisis, is not a cure for the disease and can be toxic if used without medical advice.