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ARGENTINA | 02-06-2020 19:33

BA City government studying restart of ‘low-risk activities’

City Hall considering the restart of 'low-risk' activities, but says decision depends on evolution of virus over next few days; Re-opening of some shops and approval for running at night under consideration.

Towards the end of the week City Hall will consider permitting "activities of very low risk" to restart in the capital, Buenos Aires City Health Minister Fernán Quirós announced at a Tuesday press conference.

He cautioned, however, that such a move would depend on the "trend of the curve" of coronavirus contagion. Covid-19 figures have remained stable in the last five or six days in the City, Quirós observed, adding that it was necessary to follow the virus’ evolution for the rest of the week before deciding any changes.

Quirós spoke the day after attending a meeting at the Casa Rosada bringing together the key authorities from the national and Buenos Aires provincial government with their City Hall counterparts. The meeting focused on the  "conviction that this pandemic requires coordinated public policies, reaching agreement … sharing information and beginning to work in dimensions of dialogue," he said. 

Asked to comment on recent statements of his Buenos Aires provincial colleague Daniel Gollán as to the potential of "the dead piling up the streets" were quarantine restrictions to be lifted, Quirós replied responded that he shared that view.

"We were able to talk about that yesterday and he explained to me what he meant, that the metropolitan curve is climbing slowly and if quarantine was withdrawn, we would quickly have a European style curve,” he said. “If we do not [maintain isolation], we would have a European or Brazilian situation, I share that view." 

Speaking in an interview on Tuesday, President Alberto Fernández said that officials would have to wait and see.

"Many lives were saved through quarantine, but it is a measure that will have consequences and we have to prepare to face them. In AMBA [Buenos Aires metropolitan area] we have a problem and we must wait for how it evolves," he told a radio station in Formosa.

 

Potential changes

According to local reports, City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta is considering allowing more jogging and cycling along with other recreational activities and outings. 

The curve of infection is the capital expected to peak this month, although the  City mayor has ruled out closing off low-income neighbourhoods and villas where the contagion is highest.

The Juntos por el Cambio leader is said to be studying the reopening of some shops badly hit by closure – especially those that were allowed to re-open before being shuttered in the last 10 days. The re-opening of shopping centres and hairdressers is not thought to be under consideration.

The 10,000 or so shops which were opened and then closed again in the last 10 days head the list for reopening but first they will have to draw up specific protocols and rules for avoiding congestion in shopping areas – he main reason for their closure had been heavy pedestrian traffic, putting social distancing at risk. 

City Hall’s economic authorities are said to be observing, with concern, a phenomenal plunge in Pymes, or small and medium-sized firms, especially in the retail trade of garments and footwear.

Recreational activities are already permitted within a five-block radius of home for an hour at a time, as defined by DNI identity document number, but these rules could also be relaxed slightly, perhaps even extending to parks and squares, although these remain in doubt and playgrounds will stay shuttered. 

Individual jogging at night might be permitted next month, officials have suggested, if contagion is on a downward curve, though runners would only be allowed out between 8pm and dawn, and only for individuals.

By next month various more activities including hairdressers might also be permitted but there is no relaxation in sight for either private construction or domestic service because of their massive use of public transport. 

– TIMES/PERFIL

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