Faced with a rising number of confirmed Covid-19 cases and the appearance of new strains of the coronavirus in nations across the globe, the government moved this week to limit the entry of individuals seeking to enter Argentina.
The restrictions, which apply as of midnight on December 25 and will run until January 28, will apply to Argentines and citizens who reside in the country. Although there are some limited exemptions for foreigners who wish to enter national territory (for the most part, those who have trips that are already authorised by officials, essential workers, diplomats, government officials or athletes), the government has essentially closed the borders to non-residents or non-natives.
As from Christmas Day, all those who enter Argentina must undergo a PCR test to identify if they are carrying the virus, as well as enter at least seven days of strict quarantine. The test should be carried out in each individual’s homeland, though if this is not possible, an option will be provided within Argentina.
With the new measures, the Alberto Fernández administration essentially brings to an end a pilot test that allowed tourists from neighbouring countries to enter national territory for the summer season. The decision to close entry was taken amid news of a new strain of the virus in Brazil, officials briefed.
In addition, the national aviation agency announced it had suspended flights to and from Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands and Australia. Similar restrictions were introduced earlier in the week for those travelling from the United Kingdom, after reports of a surge in cases of a new more contagious strain of Covid-19.
Argentina has been one of the hardest-hit countries amid the global pandemic. With 44 million inhabitants, so far more than 43,000 deaths and more than 1.6 million confirmed cases have been recorded.
Officials have expressed concerns in recent days that citizens may have “relaxed their conduct,” prompting higher daily caseloads over the past two weeks.
“Behaviour has become quite flexible and the use of facemasks and social distancing have ceased to be observed,” said Health Minister Ginés González García.
He called on citizens to be more responsible, urging them “not to lose what we have gained.”
Buenos Aires Province Health Minister Daniel Gollán agreed with his national colleague, saying that “the speed of the fall in cases is stagnating.”
“We must reinforce [measures] as never before, the message is we cannot relax,” he said.
Numbers in Buenos Aires City have also stopped falling, officials in the capital have noted.
The government hopes to begin vaccinations against the virus imminently, following the arrival of the first batch of Russia’s Sputnik V arrives on Christmas Eve.