Argentina’s government has announced that it will limit the number of citizens and resident foreigners who can enter the country each day to 600 individuals, starting Monday.
The move comes in response to recent research that showed that almost 40 percent of those returning to the country from overseas were not observing Covid-19 quarantine rules.
Officials are also concerned about the spread of the so-called ‘Delta’ variant, which is known to be more contagious, in national territory.
International tourism is currently suspended in Argentina, given that the country’s borders are closed to non-resident foreigners.
The daily quota, which previously stood at 2,000 passengers, will be reduced to 600 people from this Monday (June 28) until Friday, July 9 inclusive, Health Minister Carla Vizzotti confirmed at a press conference.
The decision was made with an eye to "minimising the risk or delaying, as much as possible, the entry of the Delta variant that is already circulating in more than 70 countries around the world," said the minister.
“We ask the population to minimise trips abroad, especially where there are variants of concern because they generate a significant health risk,” she added.
National Migration Director Florencia Carignano, speaking Saturday, said that the return of Argentines to the country would be carried out "in a controlled and orderly manner" to ensure returning citizens comply with the new measures, though she conceded some travellers outside the country would probably face delays.
"With the established income quota of 600 people a day, the return of people who travelled abroad will be delayed a little," she admitted.
Carignano said that around 1,700 and 1,800 people were currently entering the country each day.
Last Friday, the government extended an existing DNU emergency decree imposing coronavirus restrictions until July 9. Under the rules, activities are restricted in certain regions, depending on the number of infections and deaths in a province.
Argentina has recorded close to 4.4 million confirmed cases to date, with more than 92,000 fatalities. To date, more than some 15.8 million have received one dose, while around 3.9 million have received both shots.
Vizzotti also confirmed Friday that Argentina has signed a contract with Chinese laboratory Sinopharm for the supply of 24 million Covid-19 vaccines, the first shipment of which is expected in July.
To date, the so-called Gamma (or ‘Manaos’) variant, first identified in Brazil, is the predominant strain in Argentina. Only two infections of the Delta variant – first recorded in India – have been detected to date.