Transport Minister Mario Meoni announced Tuesday that Argentina would suspend domestic flights and long-distance coach, bus and train services for five days, as the country battles to halt the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
The steps will be taken in order to to discourage travel for the upcoming long weekend, the official added.
Services will be suspended from Thursday, March 19, to Wednesday, March 25, the minister said at a press conference, adding that other restrictions would come in for public transport.
For public transport in the Greater Buenos Aires area, “starting next Thursday [March 19], all buses and trains will only be able to transport seated passengers” until March 31.
No-one will be allowed to stand on buses or trains, he added.
“There will be a very tight system of control from the CNRT [Comisión Nacional de Regulación del Transporte] so that the measure is enforced," he warned. “We want to discourage trips for the long weekend.”
Meoni justified the measures by pointing out that "many Argentines have not yet become aware of the critical situation in which we are living."
"We take very strong health measures so that we can control the spread of the pandemic in the country. We are going to be absolutely strict," he added.
"We are facing a difficult situation and we have to cooperate between the provinces, and that is what we are working on," he said.
Many resort spots and beach towns in Argentina are beginning to block the entry of tourists into their regions, with municipal officials warning that it isn’t time for tourism.
Speaking later at a separate press conference, Health Access Secretary Carla Vizzotti called on Argentines to maintain “social isolation” in order to “minimise the possibility of [Covid-19] transmission.”
Buenos Aires City government officials say the number of passengers on public transport has reduced in recent days by 50 percent when compared to normal levels.
Later Tuesday, the government announced a host of increases in subsidies for the poor, the retired, the unemployed and pregnant women .
Officials said that individuals who had taken out consumer loans with the State would be exempt from payments for two months.
The pensions of five million retired people who receive the lowest payments (18,500 pesos) will also be boosted by 3,000 pesos per person, while aid would be offered to 550,000 unemployed and 4.3 million children whose families are poor, officials said.
Measures announced by Transport Ministry
• Trains and long-distance buses: services suspended from Thursday, March 19, to Tuesday, March 24, inclusive.
• Domestic flights: services suspended from Thursday 19 to Tuesday 24 inclusive.
• Buses and trains in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area: can only circulate with seated passengers from Thursday, March 19, to Tuesday, March 31. CNRT officers will monitor that this is respected. Sanctions are applied in case of not fulfilling requirements.
• National Routes: road controls on national routes by the ANSV and CNRT will be strengthened.
• International cargo transport: in its modalities still active, but with the Health Ministry hygiene protocol implemented.
• Ports: only Argentines or residents may enter.