President Alberto Fernández will extend Argentina’s nationwide lock- down until Sunday, May 10, in a televised announcement this weekend, government sources have confirmed.
The Peronist leader has a videoconference call scheduled for 4pm tomorrow with all of Argentina’s provincial governors, during which he will discuss details of the extension. He will hold a televised press conference to officially announce the measure after- wards, sources said.
Though the extension will nominally apply to all citizens, restrictions have already been lifted for at least nine provinces in Argentina to date, as part of the president’s “administered quarantine” approach to the coronavirus pandemic.
Fernández maintained a “fluid dialogue” with governors over the past week, government sources said, as evidenced by new exemptions granted for labourers on public works projects, lawyers and accountants, which will restart activities on Monday in some regions.
On Friday, the Health Minis- try said that 172 new cases of Covid-19 had been recorded in Argentina, taking the total number of those who have tested positive for the virus to 3,607. To date, there has been 176 fatalities.
Sources close to the government said that President Fernández would announce the extension imminently and that he was continuing “to listen to the requests of all the governors, so that new regional activities could be exempted.”
“The announcement will surely be at night,” a source quoted by Noticias Argentinas said. “Alberto is going to speak to the Argentines and he is going to communicate to them that it is best to extend the quarantine until May 10.”
The official said that the Frente de Todos leader would not loosen restrictions too quickly amid fears of a surge in infections.
“He is not going to do away with the economic and social effort that was made with the quarantine. It is going to be opened by territory, ty is shared,” the source said.
For now, restrictions will only be lifted for provinces out- side Greater Buenos Aires. Data from the Health Ministry published last weekend indicated that 52 percent of infections have been registered in Buenos Aires City and Province.
A loosening would only be “in the interior of the country, because AMBA [the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area] is going to be preserved,” the official said. “The virus came here, our ‘patient zero’ cases were here, here is where the virus circulates.”
Government officials believe a peak of Covid-19 infections will arrive in June, a thought shared publicly this week by Health Minister Ginés González García.
The president has been told “the flattening of the contagion curve is not irreversible yet,” the source said, adding that “there is a possibility that the peak in cases will be slight in June if things continue to be done well, as they have been so far. “
At least nine provinces have been allowed exemptions for select activities to date. The flexibilisation of restrictions, issued via two decrees this week, apply to Entre Ríos, Misiones, Salta, San Juan, Mendoza, Santa Cruz, Neuquén, Jujuy and La Pampa. All nine now allow citizens to leave their homes for public works projects (labourers, construction activity), while six also allow “liberal professions” (such as lawyers, accountants) to return to work.
“Each provincial jurisdiction shall issue the regulations necessary for the development of the exempted activity, and may limit its scope to certain geographical areas or municipalities or establish specific requirements for its development,” read the initial decree.
In another decree, the national government allowed 11 new exemptions in Tucumán Province, including establishments for select services including dentists and opticians, as well as money services, such as Rapipago and Pago Fácil, among others.