With summer in full swing, officials ramped up their efforts to stop illegal parties across the province of Buenos Aires this week, breaking up two contrasting gatherings that sparked headlines in local outlets.
The raids are part of a concerted effort to stop large gatherings, which health officials believe is partly to blame for the increase in Covid-19 cases witnessed over the last three months.
In the coastal town of Nueva Atlantis, which borders Mar de Ajó, authorities raided a get-together of over 2,000 youngsters on Sunday. The illegal party, which has been described as the biggest of the pandemic, took place within the Northbeach complex on the beach and nearby sand dunes.
Upon arrival, authorities seized musical and lighting equipment as well as vehicles and alcohol. They reported that the party-goers were not carrying out social distancing protocols and were in violation of restrictions imposed to tackle the spread of Covid-19 in Argentina.
The raid was ordered by Dolores Federal Judge Alejo Ramos Padilla, who argued it violated Article 205 of the Penal Code (which legislatives against the introduction or spread of an epidemic) – an offence punishable by up to six months in prison and fines up to three million pesos.
Concerns have been raised about vacationers driving an increase in Covid-19 cases as they flock to seaside resorts and form large crowds on the beaches. President Alberto Fernández himself appealed to the nation’s youth to assume “individual responsibility” during a recent event in the coastal town of Chapadmalal.
However, it's not only young Argentines who are breaching restrictions. Last weekend also saw a raid in Greater Buenos Aires, with authorities shutting down an illegal party aimed at elder, wealthier citizens at events venue Rincón de Pilar in La Lonja.
The clandestine event was reported to have over 400 guests who each paid 6,000 pesos a head. Officials, who were tipped off about the gathering, said a further 600 guests were expected to arrive at the event later in the evening.
The individuals in charge of the property claimed it was an authorised gastronomic event when police showed up, but Pilar's Legal, Technical and Administrative Secretary, Mariano Sosa, said the venue contained “musical equipment, bar, DJ, and people were not carrying out obligatory social distancing.”
According to a statement from the Buenos Aires Province Security Ministry, the event was shut down since it breached regulations and had not received the necessary authorisation.
Argentina has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with almost 1.9 million cases to date. More than 47,000 fatalities have been recorded.
Responding to reporters at a press conference this week, Health Access Secretary Carla Vizzotti said that “in the last weeks, the number of cases has declined, but we are still at a high level that we must reduce.”
The public official emphasised the importance of “the municipal and provincial authorities reducing the circulation of people.”
– TIMES with agencies